Well I’d nearly had enough of the festive tv fare. If I see another bloody charity advert imploring me to dig deep IMMEDIATELY! for homeless children in Syria or Ebola victims in West Africa or starving people in the Sudan or tortured bear cubs in Turkey or homeless dogs in the home counties, I think I’ll scream. I know it’s a well-trodden path to hit on people’s emotions when they’re feeling festively jolly and presumably in a generously-spirited mood. But boy can you get mean-spirted quickly, even with such deserving causes, when your senses are assaulted by all that misery. Sorry if I sound all curmudgeonly but I never respond to these ads anyway and they just antagonise me to the causes, which is counter-productive isn’t it?
Well I’ve been browsing through a feature on new film releases as it has been ages since we’ve been to see a great movie at the cinema. And I think it might be some time before we do so again. Bloody hell have you seen what’s on or coming up? Sigh… Continue reading
One of the absorbing things about the Xmas holidays is the great selection of family films to see on the TV. Of course we’ve seen many of them lots of times before and a lot of them are so painful I’d rather not see them again. I avoided ‘The Holiday’ the other evening thank God but it’s set to be on again on New Year’s Day and definitely on C and R’s viewing schedule. I suppose I could get lucky and catch the novovirus.
But it’s not all grim. I have to admit I got all engrossed in the movie Zulu yesterday. I must have seen it a dozen times but it’s ages since I saw it all the way through and, if you ignore all the Welsh boyo stuff (like Ivor Emmanuel singing Men of Harlech whilst being attacked by 4000 warriors with assegai) it’s really quite a good historic drama. I especially enjoyed re-seeing a young Michael Caine playing the toff officer Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (whose name would make a great anagram).
For my sins though I was obliged to watch Carrie and the girls last night as I mentioned in the previous blog. I thought I might have escaped any further torture but bugger me what should be on tonight but Love Actually. Actually I only loathe half the film’s characters – the bereaved father’s precocious son, the Laura Linney character, all that unrequited love for Keira Knightley and that stuff between the Prime Minister and his tea maid was just too damn unbelievable. Sorry girls but hey the other stuff really isn’t too bad.
But film-wise I’ve been struck by two movies these last few days. The first I haven’t seen since I was 8. Released in 1960 I was enraptured as a boy by the Disney movie Swiss Family Robinson which I must have seen a 4 or 5 times at my local Rialto cinema. It tells the tale of a family who, en route to a new life in New Guinea, become shipwrecked on a deserted but idyllic island somewhere in the East Indies where they live in amazing tree huts and fend off pirates and have all sorts of adventures. It’s absolutely ridiculous of course but it was great escapism for a young lad fed up with watching Blackpool lose and the incessant winter rain. And I’d stumbled over it again after all these years on one of the TV channels. Of course I watched it all the way through and whilst it was charmingly out-dated it still made me smile. But as I watched the film I slowly recalled an uneasy feeling I had all those years ago. It was nothing to do with the unlikely plot (perhaps Richard Curtis was influenced by the film too…?) but the rather odd cast of animals that inhabited this exotic Pacific island. You might get a clue from this album cover for the film’s soundtrack:
Ostriches, elephants and monkies? Then there were the zebra and the tigers (that the youngest boy trapped and hid in pits to scare the pirates – I know, I know). Plus an anaconda. It’s this Disneyesque vision of the world that’s just so eclectic and weird. A Pacific island that happily contains animals exclusively found in Africa and India and S America. I can’t believe the Disney organisation have ever employed somebody to do validation or background checks for accuracy purposes.
Their views of England are always so chocolate box and completely off the mark that it’s laughable. Who can ever forget Dick van Dyke’s attempt at a cockerney chim chim cheree accent? And only yesterday I watched a little of the re-make of ‘101 Dalmations’ starring Glenn Close, the one where a clutch of this country’s indigenous animals join forces to help the pups to be reunited with doggy parents Pongo and Purdy. Well I watched it until I became hysterical at being expected to buy into Disney’s catalogue of animals native to this country; shire horses and olde English sheepdogs were fine but racoons? I can’t believe that Hugh Lawrie, educated Eton and Cambridge, who played one of the baddies and who encountered the rodents, didn’t point out to the film crew that we don’t have these critters running wild in Oxfordshire. Nor skunks, one of which clambered into Cruella’s car in a later scene.
So Dear Disney this is an open letter saying that I’m very happy to put myself forward as your all-things-English correspondent. You need the role filling – desperately. Because authenticity-wise you look like bloody imbeciles from this side of the pond guys. And I’ll happily do it for a 6 figure sum (£ not $!).
I’ve written before about the quality of Italian tv – it’s basically an excuse to oggle attractive women. Which is just fine, for a while but, believe me, it gets wearisome pretty quickly because there’s no depth to the people nor the programmes. The women who present the major sports shows for example look and dress quite sensationally but their contribution doesn’t compare to, say, a Claire Balding, who in a million years would never be considered a forces pin-up but has succeeded because of her journalistic/presenter skills – she at least knows her subject matter. Even so I don’t think Claire’s a patch on some of the great male sports presenters in the UK; old school – Brian Moore, Harry Carpenter and Richie Benaud as well as ‘new’ boys Martin Tyler, Jeff Stelling and Martin Brundle for example. She’s good but nowhere near top gun. In Italy the female presenter’s primary task it seems is not to offer insight but a sight of her plunging neckline and/or oh so short hemline as she moves off and on the studio high stool (it’s a challenge repeated dozens of times, often not perfectly demurely) whilst shouting inanities increasingly loudly over the many voices of the assembled throng of old and seedy-looking former players and has-been male commentators.
I took my grandson S to watch Ice Age 3 at the local multi-screen Vue cinema in Staines this week. He’s great fun to take to watch a film and as it was an afternoon screening I promised him we’d have lunch at the cinema. He’s a big fan of hot dogs and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and all the other crap they sell in their foyers. But I’d forgotten just how crap the food choice is for more grown-up tastes. From a very very short list of hot foods (two items) I ended up choosing natchos with extra mushy jalapenos and this container of bright orange gloop which they assured me was the melted cheese dip. No it wasn’t. It was re-processed lipstick. Urgghh. Why is there nothing decent to eat at all in a cinema? Is it inconceivable that they could have a decent fast food place and maybe even a bar located within one of these multi-screen complexes? I reckon they’d do OK from those of us older than 17. Anyway the film was great. For all of 20 minutes we were the only ones in screen room 1 and we were so looking forward to whooping and hollering all alone to the antics of Manny, Diego and Sid – my personal favourite. We booed quietly when the other 15 joined us during the Pearl and Dean bit until a very old white-haired guy came in all alone. I whispered to S that he probably remembered the last Ice Age – and I didn’t mean The Meltdown. We giggled like only granddads and grandsons can. Such fun. Sorry old guy, hope you enjoyed the movie:
I watched the excellent tv documentary on Brian Clough last night and of course the much-anticipated film, The Damned United, on his 44 days at dirty Leeds is released tomorrow. I cannot wait to see it especially because they reckon Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall are outstanding as East Midlands’ very own dynamic duo Clough and Taylor. The only negative it seems is the simulated football action which, as ever, looks completely unrealistic. Aww.
I know it’s all that the media have been going on about for the last week but here’s the thing; we went to see Slumdog Millionaire last week-end and it was brilliant. No, it was bloody brilliant. C and I haven’t been to the cinema since we went with good friends M and J some 5 or 6 years ago. Things have changed – it was a multiplex Vue cinema in sunny Staines (we were expecting the worst) and you know what, the place was excellent; big comfortable seats, perfect sight lines, great sound system, friendly staff, easy book-ahead system. Surely the film was going to prove a disappointment…..oh no.