Saturday, March 29, 2008

The I Hate Myself Post.

While I was logging in, Sharon started vacuuming. I should have done that.

Now I know I've hit a low point. And I apologise. I'm going to post this and sign off completely now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The You Can't Have Your Cake And Edith Too Post.

Yes, Quantum Of Solace is a great name for a story but not so good for a movie. True, it's difficult to see how you can get it into a song title (so they probably won't - as demonstrated by On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy and Casino Royale). And indeed, a humourous takeoff of 007 songs is not a bad idea. (As opposed to keeping on mentioning Amy Winehouse each time the "Who'll sing the next theme?" question is brought up.)

None of which excuses Edith Bowman, James King and Alison Clarkson (aka Betty Boo) for the fact that their parody Bond song is pretty poor, both as a song in itself and because it's not very funny (Weird Al Yankovic's title song from Spy Hard and the "Scorpio" number at the end of The Simpsons' "You Only Move Twice" both effortlessly kill this one). But I still heart Edith, and judge for yourself.

And it's still better than the last few real James Bond songs anyway.

The Grumpy Oldish Composers Post.

Most film music written today is terrible, with few scores lingering in the memory like the underwater menace of Jaws or the whimsical "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, top composers have told The Times.

Hans Zimmer, who wrote the music for the Hollywood box-office hits Gladiator and The Lion King, dismissed the majority of contemporary screen compositions as unmemorable. “They drift around like cows grazing. So many scores sound like nobody really thought about them.”

Anne Dudley, whose music in The Full Monty won an Oscar, and Christopher Gunning, whose score for La Vie en Rose picked up a Bafta this year, attacked the “blandness” of soundtracks.

The public appear to agree. A recent poll of the nation’s all-time favourite film themes was dominated by scores from decades ago by composers such as John Williams (Jaws) and Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).

Gladiator and Pirates of the Caribbean were among five scores in the poll by Zimmer, whose Oscar-winning soundtrack for The Lion King has sold more than 15 million copies.

“Where is the next Jerry Goldsmith?” Zimmer asked yesterday, referring to the late composer of the Stravinsky-inspired score for Planet of the Apes and the jazzy theme of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

Zimmer praised the craftsmanship of Williams (Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park) and Morricone. “There’s never a lazy note from them,” he said. Gunning said: “I go to movies a lot and I find myself disappointed again and again [by] the blandness of the music. Where has melody gone in film music? What do you remember of Breakfast at Tiffany’s? "Moon River" by Henry Mancini. You can’t get it out of your head.”

He said that these days scores were more likely to be written by keyboard players with computer skills learned at film schools rather than composers trained at music college.

Dudley blamed American studios for choosing music “by committee”.

That was from a couple of weeks ago, and it and responses to it are here. Now I'm not saying they don't have a point... but it's also true to say that you get wheat and chaff in all areas. And really, considering how insidious Zimmer's cloning process is (as opposed to apprenticeship, like with Michael Kamen and Edward Shearmur... and Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer, come to that) he's a fine one to talk. Still, there's stuff to look forward to this year - Michael Giacchino's Speed Racer, John Williams's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - and Barbarella on TV now is on my want-to-buy list, music-wise.

Wait a minute... that was from 1968!

I can only assume that poll was from Classic FM, which ain't the most trustworthy of things...

Monday, March 17, 2008

The It Figures Post.

blog readability test

You know what they say about the child being the father of the man.

Pushing Daisies and Gossip Girl, coming soon to ITV1 and ITV2 respectively. And already a clash with the latter what with it being on the same night as My Name Is Earl. Not at the same time (9pm for the one, 10pm for the other), but if they're being taped I can't honestly see Sharon - a big fan of Earl Hickey's travails - taking to a series like this. Repeats, please? (What am I saying? This is ITV2. They repeat EVERYTHING.)

STOP PRESS: Oh. Apparently they are on at the same time (both at 10pm). Wonderful. Thank goodness for ITV2+1, is all I can say. And, not for the first time, Channel 4+1. And, like I said, repeats.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Labels Post.

"The Panettiere Spot," one of my friends dubbed this. But is he right? There's only one way to find out - see how many posts up to now I have via category and sort out the top 10 (well, maybe a bit more than 10). With apologies to those that only had one or two posts (such as Alan Silvestri, Amy Adams, Elmer Bernstein and Tom and Jerry), gradual winnowing determined that the rankings, from 10 to 1, are:

10. sisters (9 labelled posts)
9. unbelievably strokeable women, soundtracks, work work work (10 each)
8. great legs, my favourite women, TV (11 each)
7. Erica Campbell, film music (12 each)
6. proper soundtrack albums (15)
5. Jessica Alba (22)
4. stunning brunette (27)
3. Heroes (31)
2. Hayden Panettiere (41)

And the number one subject posted about here is...

1. Cindy Crawford (63)

So by a margin of 22, this remains The Cindy Spot. So there, Rachel Bilson freak. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Nightmare And Dream Post.

When I was a kid (with apologies to MacGyver), the Air Programs International logo in its animated form at the end of Arthur! and the Square Knights of the Round Table scared the living shit out of me - though unlike the Rankin/Bass logo, which is similarly creepy, it only seems to have turned up on that show. Some sadist uploaded it on YouTube, and it still frightens me. I am not linking or embedding it; go and find it yourself... quite possibly the most terrifying thing to ever come from Australia, that is.

Nightmare out of the way, let's get positive. And if there's a better way of doing that than the mother of the world's most beautiful family, then I don't know it.

Top that, fans of the porn star of the same name.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The So Long And Thanks For Everything Post.

I normally don't talk too much about work (there's a reason why most blogs talk about famous things rather than the mundane), but today I'll make an exception.

Today's the last day at work for one of the best people there. His name's Hommy - he came over when we merged, and he was a good worker and a good man. He's a rare thing at that place... someone who I'll actually miss.

I don't like farewells, so I'll just say so long for now.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Rambo Post.

The Movie: One of the writers of First Blood (the movie, not the book) was also one of the prime movers behind Hill Street Blues; one of the writers of Rambo was one of the prime movers behind High Incident. That kind of says everything, really. That and the lipservice it pays to being serious before bringing on the action - and there's lots of it for sure, but it's kind of uncomfortable to see all the gruesome violence (people getting blown to smithereens, arms lopped off, children shot dead at close range etc)... plus both good and bad guys are so skimpily built up, even for this kind of movie, that it's never particularly rousing; not wanting people to cheer the sight of men dying horribly is a good thing, but this movie doesn't give you much of anything in return (the way First Blood genuinely put humanity above violence) except show you how horrible death is, and we know that already. On the upside, a) this means I'm not part of the audience for Funny Games, and b) at least Sylvester Stallone doesn't take his shirt off.

The Music: Even though Brian Tyler's score not only covers Jerry Goldsmith's guitar-and-brass main theme from the first film in the opening and closing credits but also works in other Goldsmith motifs from the previous movies throughout (such as in ***SPOILER ALERT*** the "final showdown" between Rambo and the evil pederast general (this assumption is based on the fact that at one point he summons a small boy to see him, and lets him go later on. Admittedly we don't see what happens, but judging from the way he caresses his head on entering it's safe to say he didn't invite the lad over to talk about last night's episode of Supernatural) - i.e. Rambo takes him by surprise and guts him, though his knife is incredibly clean very soon afterwards), the only acknowledgement is buried in amongst the song credits as "Rambo: First Blood Theme." Still, at least Goldsmith gets some kind of mention, which is more than can be said for Michael Kamen on Live Free Or Die Hard.

Anyway, Tyler - no stranger to following in Jerry Goldsmith's footsteps, since he wrote a good replacement score for Timeline (which is, however, left standing by Goldsmith's stunning thrown-out score) - tries to stay true to Jerry, even unto writing his own Goldsmithian theme for our hero in a thoughtful line, first heard in the opening with Rambo hunting for snakes. The ethnic drumming is present and correct, but when it comes to the action scenes it's Tyler all the way - the short string stabs from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift come along again, and though it keeps the movie barrelling along (particularly in the scene where Rambo uses a WWII bomb - don't ask - to wipe out a whole load of pursuers) and it's efficient, it's not exactly classic. It doesn't help that the Northwest Sinfonia (conducted by David Sabee) fights a losing battle with the sound effects in the climax, perhaps explaining why that particular cue gets a second chance over the closing credits. But at least no one'll accuse the score of being flag-waving tosh, and it's not nearly as weak as the Omen IV: The Awakening music; just proves yet again, however, that Jerry Goldsmith is a very tough act to follow. His widow Carole and his agent Richard Kraft receive "Music Special Thanks"; album on Lionsgate.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The End Of An Era Post.

If I can get a bit geeky for a moment, A.O. Scott in today's New York Times.

Four years ago, on the night before the Academy Awards, I found myself at the Beverly Hills home of Bob Shaye, the founder and co-chairman of New Line Cinema.

The annual New Line party chez Shaye was a popular stop on the pre-Oscars festivity circuit, and to an outsider the scene seemed to fit every stereotype of Hollywood power and the aspiration to it. There was the blue-chip contemporary art on the walls (“Is that a real Francis Bacon?” I heard someone ask); the panoramic views of the Los Angeles basin and the San Fernando Valley; the Wolfgang Puck-catered dinner; the endless parade of agents, executives, movie stars and aspirants to influence and fame.

Wasn’t that Richard Parsons of Time Warner? Is she Paris Hilton? Is that the guy who used to be on that TV show? And that must be his agent. It was like something from The Player, speaking of New Line releases.

This impression, however, was a bit misleading. Yes, it’s true that in February 2004, New Line Cinema was on top of the world, and Mr. Shaye and his colleagues, including his co-chairman, Michael Lynne, were riding high. The night after the party, to no one’s particular surprise, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King swept every category in which it was nominated, collecting 11 Oscars, among them best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay. But New Line was hardly a typical blockbuster factory, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was not a typical franchise, and Bob Shaye was far from a standard studio boss.

And that is why New Line — which ceased to operate as a full-fledged studio on Thursday, when Time Warner announced that it would be folded into Warner Brothers and Mr. Shaye and Mr. Lynne would depart — will be missed. New Line was not a specialty division or a genre label. It went highbrow and low, sometimes playing for the niches and sometimes for the mass audience. It was an oddity and an anomaly.

Last year, in commemoration of its 40th anniversary, New Line put together a DVD sampler of some of its more memorable productions. It was handsomely bound and presented, but the impression was less of a catalog of masterpieces than a collection of betting slips, a compendium of gambles, hunches and long shots. The Lord of the Rings was the most successful of these. (Others included Elf, Blow and the Austin Powers trilogy.)

No other studio was willing to sink several hundred million dollars into the simultaneous production of three movies directed by an obscure New Zealander named Peter Jackson. And when New Line did just that, there were a lot of smirks and raised eyebrows in Hollywood.

As perhaps there are now, since schadenfreude is as essential to the health of the Hollywood body politic as Diet Coke. The triumph of the Rings was followed by a long losing streak, exacerbated by messy litigation over the spoils and the future of the Tolkien franchise. Mr. Shaye decided to dabble in directing, turning out a ghastly kiddie-magic movie called The Last Mimzy.
(I didn't think it was that bad; certainly better than anything fellow studio head Joe Roth's directed... America's Sweethearts, anyone? Thought not.) It began to seem as if New Line’s days were numbered.

It’s not for me to argue the merits of the decision to snuff out New Line’s independence. The dissolution of one corporate entity by another is rarely an occasion for sentiment, except perhaps among stockholders. But New Line Cinema was a link between the smooth, conglomerated present and a gamier, more entrepreneurial past. Mr. Shaye may live like Hollywood royalty, but his roots are in New York retail and in the nervy, disreputable world of grindhouses and exploitation pictures.

He was the man who made the 1930s drug-scare propaganda movie Reefer Madness into a staple of the late-’60s campus counterculture. He picked up, on the cheap, North American rights to Bruce Lee movies, and he helped turn John Waters’s Pink Flamingos into a cult classic. And let’s not forget Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Not a bad art collection, after all.

And given Warner Bros.' fondness for going all Stalin on the pasts of its companies (see: Lorimar), expect them to suddenly claim credit in future for The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. Though probably not The Golden Compass and Quiet Cool.