Taking a Week Off

Anyone with a passing interest in this site’s doings will by now have noticed the obvious – no posts, not since Saturday at any rate. What’s going on? Is it the end?

Well, not quite. I’m still very much here and can’t even claim to have broken my usual one–per-day posting routine by going off on a glamorous holiday, because sadly I haven’t. I guess I’d call it nothing more or less than taking a week off, trying to avoid burnout after putting together a week’s schedule of films that failed to inspire me. That isn’t the films’ fault, of course. There have been lean weeks in the schedules before, but this time I just couldn’t be bothered to cover them without the feeling that doing so would be a chore, and there’s no worse motivation than that.

For the record, I had Chariots of Fire on this week’s list, timed to coincide with some summer sporting event or other that you may have heard of. I wasn’t looking forward to watching Chariots again – it kind of set the tone for British films aspiring to critical and commercial success in forgoing big budgets providing they were set in some semi-remembered past, focused on poshos and were very, very dull. It’s a boring film, which somehow moves with glacial slowness whilst covering a really interesting subject. Worse still was its indication to future projects that this was exactly the way to go.

At the same time, it has that fantastic score by Vangelis, one used as part of the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympics. The ceremony itself turned out to be a genuinely jaw dropping affair for me. I’d never seen anything quite like it and subsequently went on a bender of listening to Underworld’s back catalogue whilst waiting impatiently for the tie-in album. Employing Danny Boyle to co-ordinate it was a masterstroke – northern and left-wing, two elements that stood out within an event that might very well have substituted style, class and a streak of fun for endless fireworks and dancers. Even its use of the Chariots theme was inspired, shunning the prospect of a straight, reverential playing for the funny, gently piss taking sketch featuring Mr Bean. It wasn’t the Queen actually playing herself alongside James Bond for a laugh, or the sight of thousands of volunteers recreating the bit in The Fellowship of the Ring where leafy Isengard turns into an industrial hell, but it was cracking viewing.

Anyway, my apologies for being absent. I do have a half-written piece on Vertigo that needs finishing and will try and get it online before too long. In the meantime, there’s this superb critique on the same by friend of the site, Sergio, over at Tipping my Fedora to recommend (it’s already better than anything you’ll get here and I haven’t even finished it yet, bloody hell), and if you’re really missing my stylings, my thoughts on another sporting institution have just been posted at the excellent The Two Unfortunates and you can read it here.

Not the Titanic Review

Another apology from me, as my efforts to write some words on Titanic completely failed to materialise. As it was, the sinker epic was scheduled on the same evening as Aliens, and it was the latter I originally intended to cover. Having watched it on that dopey Quadrilogy boxset that surely every household has a copy of, stashed away somewhere, it occurred to me that the largely universal opinion of the film is glowing and I have nothing new to add to the consensus. Titanic, however, is a very different animal. It divides people in the way only really successful films can and, having seen it many times, almost by default, I really would like to get down my thoughts on James Cameron’s watery opus.

So here’s the deal. Titanic is repeated on Friday, in a Cameron double-bill with Avatar (which, presumably, is the reason for so many of the egocentric, free spending auteur’s work being screened this week – The Abyss is putting in an appearance also). I have something else in mind for my review, so I’ll try and run two posts instead and catch up, if you will.

As for Aliens, it looks from the timeslot Film4 have devoted to it as though we’re in for the special edition, which for me does naught but flesh out the characters a little more (poor Mac McDonald, Captain Hollister from Red Dwarf, found that his cameo had been left on the cutting room floor until this cut was released), though they’re characters who are worth knowing better and the extra minutes do no harm. It’s been a while since I last caught it, probably shortly after buying the set, but it’s a cracking film with tonnes of special effects that haven’t aged at all badly. Cameron already showed his eye for detail in this (I love the bit where the armoured vehicle enters a low doorway and the gun turret slides behind the chassis so it can fit through), an ability to depict strong female characters and his unerring knack of coaxing brilliant performances out of Michael Biehn. Honestly, it’s as though only he knew how to unlock Biehn’s potential. Weird.

Krudd Sunday

Sorry everyone – no review from me today. Early last week, I noticed Krull was on and so ensured I had a copy in time. It’s a long time since I last watched it – cinema visit all of 29 years ago, plus at least one televised viewing many moons past – and I needed to refamiliarise myself. I guess there’s a tendency with all fantasy/science fiction flicks that came out in the wake of Star Wars to rubbish them for their sheer coal-tails hanging cheek, but watching Krull again wasn’t too bad. The special effects weren’t as awful as I had anticipated. The acting from leads Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony was dreadful, however; their lack of chemistry was really only saved by the fact they spent so little of the film together. To be fair, there are some cracking support performances – Robbie Coltrane, Alun Armstrong, Todd Carty, Liam Neeson, Bernard Bresslaw, Freddie Jones – to keep things moving along within this product of people who’d watched ‘the Wars’ and read their Tolkein.

Sadly, some scheduling chicanery must have taken place later in the week because Sunday’s here and Krull’s not on. I didn’t have time to find something else so this apologetic post will have to do. Here’s a nice picture of Ms Anthony (imagine a winsome British alternative to someone like Phoebe Cates) to be going on with:

As usual, I hope normal service will be resumed tomorrow. In the thick of all that football I’m pretty much being press-ganged into watching (terrible, isn’t it?), I have managed to catch up with some recent(ish) DVD releases, including:

The Artist – whether it’s a worthy Oscar winner is up to the reader, of course, but I thought it was an absolutely charming piece of work and the scenes in which sound was played with were clever and very funny.

The Awakening – I’m a sucker for slow-burning ghost stories, and this 2011 BBC film – which featured scenes in Disley’s Lyme Park, where we’ve day-tripped several times – sits right alongside the likes of The Innocents and The Others. Well acted, atmospheric and chilling in the right places, with a twist that can be guessed in advance but is still solid enough.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – a bit like the first one revisited, which is fine but it adds nothing, and whilst I had a laugh it made me appreciate the BBC update that bit more.

Green Lantern – $200 million was spent on this turkey, and you can see where the money went as every scene seems suffused with CGI effects. Call me easily pleased all you want; I thought it was good fun and, on a rainy Saturday evening, there’s nothing wrong with a slice of mindless entertainment.

Tuesday Fail

To quote Google Chrome, well this is embarrassing… For only the first occasion in over a month, I’ve run out of time and can’t put an entry on for today. Very poor. You should be demanding your money back. For the sake of tantalising completism, today’s film was going to be 1969’s The Valley of Gwangi, featuring a Ray Harryhausen designed Tyrannosaurus Rex running amok in Mexico. It’s years since I last watched it, so another viewing was required and it just hasn’t happened. A shame; I was looking forward to it, but events outside the realm of watching old films just caught up with me for once so that’s that.

Back to normal service tomorrow. Honest.