Friday, June 25, 2010

Hell's grannies

And Now for Something Completely Different: An old favourite; film-length compilation of Monty Python sketches, restaged on film and slightly adjusted to flow into each other better. But still hilarious. The sketches have stood the test of time impressively; there were occasional topical references (e.g. to the "domino effect" and to Nixon) but none too problematic for the modern audience. Works well as an introduction to Python for novices, a reminder of what was so special about them for people who haven't watched the series for a while, and a good "greatest hits" DVD for serious fans.

The Rutles: Scarily well-done spoof documentary on a Rutland band whose career eerily parallels the Beatles, realised by a mixture of Python and Saturday Night Live alumni and some real actual 1960s celebs (including George Harrison). The whole thing is done perfectly seriously-- including songs which sound like real ones from the era rather than parodies-- making it even funnier. Off to download "Good Times Roll" from Itunes now.

Die Hard with a Vengeance: Expectations for this were rock bottom given my feelings about the first film in the series, but this surprised by actually being enjoyable. The edge it had over its prequel was that it clearly wasn't taking itself remotely seriously, and the sense of fun permeated every scene. However, it's a very, well, September 10th type of film: leaving aside the fact that doing a story about terrorists blowing up New York landmarks seems a bit anticlimactic these days, the ideas that a) New Yorkers would not be able to spot a bomb threat a mile off and b) an explosives expert would have to painstakingly explain to policemen about homemade devices which could be hidden in cars or other large pieces of mechanical equipment and detonated remotely by mobile phone seem strangely dated.

Movie count for 2010: 66

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Repeated Meme: Amy's Box

The Pandorica Opens

Idea Proposed but Not Used in Galactica 1980: Time-travel story involving Cleopatra and anachronisms.
Central Premise Recycled From: The "Whose Doctor Who" documentary at one point featured a child opining that the Doctor's enemies should form an alliance, gang up on the Doctor, take away his TARDIS and maroon him somewhere. Apparently one Steven Moffat was listening.
Reference to Moffat's Back Catalogue: "The Forest of Fear"-- the Doctor's "I'm the Doctor, look me up" bit as a way of getting bad guys to back off before they start. Worked out better for him there, obviously.
Gratuitous Scottish Joke: Again none, unless you count the return of gratuitous Scottish jokes Bracewell and Vincent van Gogh.
Amy Saves the Day with Wuv: Well, I'm not sure what you'd call it, but Amy certainly does *something* to the day with Wuv.
Tennant Line: Didn't notice one, but then I was too busy waiting for the Pandorica to Open.
Star Wars Bit: River Song's Celtic gear was clearly stolen from Princess Leia during the Hoth sequences of The Empire Strikes Back. Presumably when C-3PO was doing the laundry.
Nostalgia UK: Ahhh, fond memories of "The Eagle of The Ninth," "Sky," "The Box of Delights," and all the other British children's fiction involving ancient Romans and/or Stonehenge. And apparently Amy has the same memories.
Teeth!: None! But hey, horses!
Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Leaving aside the fact that the end of the story looks like a sale in the toy aisle of our local Tesco's, who wouldn't love a mechanical coin bank based on the Pandorica?
Something Gets Redesigned: The whole universe, apparently.
The Crack in the Universe Is: Everywhere, though it starts in the TARDIS scanner.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The Usual Suspects: A rewatch this one. I found it sharp, clever, and witty, well characterised and tensely plotted, with plenty to amuse and interest even if you already know who Keiser Soze is. My father-in-law, who watched it with Alan and me, said it was the scariest thing he'd ever seen. I guess it depends on your perspective.

Movie count for 2010: 63

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Repeated Meme: Where's Ivor Novello When You Need Him?

The Lodger

Idea Done to Death in the Virgin/BBC Books Era: The Doctor being forced to live like an ordinary human.
Central Premise Recycled From: About a million romcoms (slightly pathetic boy fancies beautiful girl, and, with the intervention of a wacky relative/friend/flatmate, finally gets her).
Reference to Moffat's Back Catalogue: "The Girl in the Fireplace" again; a spaceship with no crew killing people in a misguided attempt to get itself functional again.
Gratuitous Scottish Joke: None, with Amy yet again out of the picture.
Amy Saves the Day with Wuv: Amy is out of the picture, but Craig saves the day by finally acknowledging his Wuv for Sophie, and vice versa.
Tennant Line: "No, no no no no!" But spoken by Craig. The Doctor also calls himself "the Oncoming Storm."
Star Wars Bit: I'm trying to think of some amusing way to liken James Corden to Jabba the Hutt, but not coming up with much so far.
Nostalgia UK: Football games on the village green. Also quick nostalgic 1960s Gerry Anderson reference when the Doctor introduces himself as "Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue."
Teeth!: None for a change.
Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Nothing, or at least I hope nothing (please God, no six-inch fully-articulated James Cordens).
Something Gets Redesigned: A house turns from a two-story into a bungalow.
The Crack in the Universe Is: In the wall of Craig's flat, and all over the "Next Time" trailer.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Field of Dreams

Cloverfield: While I spent the first half-hour of the film debating whether or not to go on with it, as I was hating the characters in it so much, the rest of it more than made up for it by being, essentially, a crystallisation of the post-9/11 movie/TV genre. Spoilt, overprivileged young people having it all suddenly ripped away from them? Check. People stumbling around the wreckage in the dust, unable to make sense of it all? Check. A military and/or civil authorities unable to do anything and causing more deaths through misdirected friendly fire? Check. A mysterious and incomprehensible enemy attacking New York? Check. But, if you add to that the subliminal reference to the Zapruder footage (in that the video footage the audience are watching is an amateur film which captured a major event in American history while being intended for another purpose) and the fact that the thing attacking New York looks amazingly like the Id Monster from Forbidden Planet, you actually have a film-literate comment on the post-9/11 mindset: that America is, in a sense, fighting its own id.

Movie count for 2010: 62 (yes, I know I'm slowing down output, but it's been a busy couple of months)

Monday, June 07, 2010

No doughnut

Bad Lieutenant: Surprising and disturbing take on the bad-cop-who-does-the-right-thing-in-the-end genre, in that the cop is very, very bad indeed, and doing the right thing involves enabling the escape of someone who might possibly be worse. Under that, it's about what the Christian imperative to forgive your enemies really, actually means. If your sanity can take it, watch it together with Taxi Driver and Mean Streets.

FYI, I mean the original 1992 Harvey Keitel version, not the remake, which, having seen this, I want to avoid at all costs lest it should ruin the experience.

Movie count for 2010: 61

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Repeated Meme: World's Blandest Episode Title

Vincent and the Doctor

Idea Not Proposed but Used Anyway During the JNT Era: A monster that looks unfortunately like a giant chicken (seriously, "Arc of Infinity" may be terrible, but I very much doubt the script description of the Ergon read "looks unfortunately like a giant chicken").
Central Premise Recycled From: Mostly "The Shakespeare Code," though there's an element of "Tooth and Claw" in Amy trying to get van Gogh to paint some sunflowers.
Reference to Moffat's Back Catalogue: "The Girl in the Fireplace" again: the Doctor bonds with a historical figure but not enough to stop them dying tragically before retirement age.
Gratuitous Scottish Joke: Van Gogh has a Scottish accent. Amy has a Scottish accent. "Are you also from Holland?" van Gogh asks Amy. Cue rimshot.
Amy Saves the Day with Wuv: Amy Wuvs Vincent, and makes his final days a little happier by doing so. Aw.
Tennant Line: "No, no no no no!"
Star Wars Bit: Hero with A Destiny, which is recognised by a mysterious traveler and/or hermit, but by no one else.
Nostalgia UK: Who didn't have a copy of either "Starry Night" or "Sunflowers" on the wall of their first residence room/bedsit/flatshare?
Teeth!: No, but some Beak! on the invisible chicken monster.
Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: The invisible chicken monster obviously, though are Character Options bold enough to just release an empty package and claim it's the monster? It'd be one up on "Destroyed Cassandra," certainly.
Something Gets Redesigned: Two van Gogh paintings.
The Crack in the Universe Is: Running through van Gogh's mind. No, really, since he clearly detects the absence of Rory.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Harder, faster, stronger

Die Hard: Apparently a classic of the thriller genre. I just found it pointlessly macho. And dull. By three-quarters of the way through I was siding with Alan Rickman.

Movie count for 2010: 60

The Repeated Meme: Cold Judas

Cold Blood

Idea Proposed and Used Despite It Being Stupid During the JNT Era: Bringing back a classic monster/villain and retroactively ruining all their street cred.
Central Premise Recycled From: Star Trek. Namely, those interminable episodes where the crew of the Enterprise/DS9/Voyager/Whatever have to thrash out a simplistic diplomatic conflict involving aliens with rubber faces, noses and honkers (who also usually possess a wise elder-statesman type), and usually wind up with some kind of "maybe in a thousand years' time humanity will be ready!" reset button.
Reference to Moffat's Back Catalogue: Companion plus tagalong of the week strapped to a dissecting table by an alien with designs on their body parts: "The Girl in the Fireplace."
Gratuitous Scottish Joke: Quite a lot of Silurians have Scottish accents, but still no one notices.
Amy Saves the Day with Wuv: Amy tries to save the day with Wuv, or at least to remember her Wuv for Rory to keep him preserved, but this turns out rather less than effective.
Tennant Line: The Doctor bleats on about being the last of his kind again (didn't he say a couple of episodes ago that he didn't really want to talk about it?)
Star Wars Bit: If Aleya and Restac are any indication, the Silurians have an army of clone warriors.
Nostalgia UK: Welsh mining villages.
Teeth!: As well as humanlike noses and honkers, Silurians have humanlike teeth. Which is just as weird.
Item Most Likely to Wind Up as a Toy: Those Sea Devil retro-style ray guns would be a nice idea if Character Options ever get into weaponry beyond sonic screwdrivers.
Something Gets Redesigned: The entirety of "The Eleventh Hour," "Vampires of Venice" and "Amy's Choice," which now have to take place sans Rory.
The Crack in the Universe Is: Grafted on to the story for an exciting coda.