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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Tales of Wilfredo

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
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30 August

I sent my man Wilfredo down to sort him out. However, I forgot that he fancies himself a poet, and so I heard a considerable commotion, resulting from his attempt to recite verse relating his latest alleged conquest, and had to go down myself.

Peace!, I had to cry out more loudly than I liked, Peace! Foolish, frail Wilfredo was at the bottom of a pile of men who meant him no good, and none of this was furthering my cause. I desisted from saying anything about unhanding him, because that was just old hat, and instead pleaded that they let him live, my servant.

His face, with the leering teeth, came out and to the fore. What were you thinking of man?, I hissed; Now I am embroiled in what is below my dignity! He smirked. What was to be done with him!





Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Luc Besson looks prolific

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30 August
* Contains some spoilers *

That is the impression created by Besson's page on www.imdb.com.

I have caught up with Angel-A (2005), and found it an engrossing adventure for Jamel Debbouze as André and Rie Rasmussen playing Angela as Capra met City of Angels (1998), not in Los Angeles, but Paris. Rasmussen I feel sure that I should have known (although I turn out not to know
her other work, but she was a good emotional and physical foil to Debbouze (who played a strong role in Let's Talk About the Rain (2008)), and they worked well as a team, stalking around an often deserted city, although there is many a twilight shot just of him, walking across a deserted bridge.

Bridges give a sort of loose connection of theme with Leconte's The Girl on the Bridge (1999), but the real tie is with a take on It's a Wonderful Life (1946) (whose Donna Reed so impressed me at a screening, appropriately on Christmas Eve, when last seen): Angela is bold and self-assured in life and in her sexiness in a way that André is not, and she is a pre-echo of the title role in Besson's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010), as is the humour.

With Jimmy Stewart, it is easy to see that he does not deserve his lot, though he cannot see all that he has done to improve people's lives, whereas with André, not that it matters, it is the beauty of what Angela can see in him that turns out to count, both for him and for her, in this well-imagined and gloriously photographed embrace with Paris, and with these two people who dance around it.

Duck's off!

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29 August

Our own gourmet night, when a friend and I visited an upmarket Indian restaurant that had shunned dark furnishings in favour of a light and bright decor (replete with shining statues of violins and saxes), was nothing like Basil's.

Except that, when I saw the list of tandoori items available, I could not resist - because I had never experienced - duck done in a tandoor oven.

Now I know, because I have no reason to believe that it was not a perfectly good initial piece of poultry, that the transformation that the process works on chicken (or lamb) is not suited to that very different commodity of duck: the effect, as characterized by my friend when he sampled a couple of pieces, was to render the dense flesh more like liver.

So it was alchemically no longer duck, but more like (though not sufficiently so to repulse me) a cheaper offering: gold into lead, one rather feared, for all that the experiment was worth...



Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Wilfredo gyrates in his Y-fronts - expanded view

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27 August

* A quick sketch, whose detail is being filled in *

We couldn't see the said Y-fronts*, but could conceive not only, from his style of dress as a class club act gone wrong, that Wilfredo was wearing them, but also that, as with his shirt, they would be held closed (ouch!) with a safety-pin.

With his trousers elevated to below his ribs, Wilfredo cut a figure reminiscent, including the teeth, of when down-and-out Reggie Perrin, in the first series of his Fall and Rise and having faked his suicide, ends up having to muck out the pigs in the character of Mr Potts**. And, indeed, Wilfredo is another such creation as Reginald Iolanthe Perrin, whose ways and manners become - and let him embody - his role.

I do not think the comparison with the great Leonard Rossiter, or, indeed, with the equally great Ronnie Barker, unjust: to make a Rigsby, an Arkwright or a Fletcher - or even a Dame Edna - necessitates having a feel for what that person would do in any situation, and one sensed that quality in Wilfredo and how he lived, moved and breathed.

This had been Wilfredo's last show in his run at the Edinburgh Fringe, downstairs in The Tron (pub), and there was great warmth from those in the audience - and also, amongst the women, probably a fear of either some not exactly passing slight, or of some equally unwelcome favourable attention, from Wilfredo.

This was a very convinced embodiment of a Spanish celebrity singer, whose humour lies in having more faith in his love-making and his talent than one felt could really be justified (the boasting of Cellini in his autobiography, or the ambition of an Alan Partridge to be more than he is? - except that Wilfredo, somehow, has none of the doubts or mishaps, and so is more like Cellini).
Wilfredo's petulance as a performer is delightful, provoking the laughter that he resents, and which he insists requires him to start again, in his recitations (is one reminded of Frankie Howerd?). Likewise, his lechery, both somehow suggested, and made unlikely to achieve its aim, by his peculiar smile is very real - will he jump off the stage into a woman's surprised lap? (Fortunately, he confined himself to throwing individual red roses to the ladies.)

With a little more development of material, Wilfredo could go on to greater things embodied by the likes of Sir Les, but he needs, perhaps, to be a little less downright strange: When I first saw you / I dropped my pasty may be some recondite sexual reference, but, although the stark incongruity was funny - because, precisely, it evokes the shabbiness by which Wilfredo's appearance belies his grotesque self-belief - it maybe did not fit well with the rest of the ditty about Harriet Harman.
Yes, Rt Hon. Harriet Harman MP, but I shan't say more - you'll have to see the act! (Or you could read another reviewer's account.)
Post script: Now you can hear Wilfredo and also here!


End-notes
* By Tweet to @TheAgent Apsley, Wilfredo has declared that he 'goes commando', and that Y-fronts are never his thing.
** Strangely, an official Perrin web-site, which purports to give a synopsis of every episode, does not even mention the pig-farm.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Wilfredo gyrates in his Y-fronts - straight cut

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26 August

* A quick sketch, whose detail can be filled in later *

We couldn't see the said Y-fronts, but could conceive not only, from his style of dress as a class club act gone wrong, that he was wearing them, but also that, as with his shirt, they would be held closed (ouch!) with a safety-pin.

Wilfredo, with his trousers elevated to below his ribs, cut a figure reminiscent, including the teeth, of when down-and-out Reggie Perrin, having faked his suicide, ends up having to take a job mucking out the pigs. And, indeed, Wilfredo is another such creation as Reginald Iolanthe Perrin, whose ways and manners become and let him embody his role.

I do not think the comparison with the great Leonard Rossiter, or, indeed, with the equally great Ronnie Barker, unjust: to make a Rigsby, an Arkwright or a Fletcher - or even a Dame Edna - necessitates having a feel for what that person would do in any situation, and one sensed that in Alfredo and how he lived, moved and breathed.

This had been Wilfredo's last show in his run at the Edinburgh Fringe, downstairs in The Tron (pub), and there was great warmth from those in the audience - and also, amongst the women, probably a fear of either some not exactly passing slight, or of some equally unwelcome favourable attention.

A very convincing embodiment of a Spanish celebrity singer, with more faith in his love-making and his talent than one felt could really be justified (the boasting of Cellini in his autobiography?), and who, with a little more development of material, could go on to greater things.


Post script: Now you can hear Wilfredo, and also here!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Who's dancing with whom ?

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24 August

This is a review of Shadow Dancer (2012)

* Contains some spoilers *

They say that it takes two to tango, but does it?

At any rate, in Shadow Dancer (2012), anti-terrorist agent Mac (Clive Owen, who also has the code-name of Declan) and Collette McVeigh* (Andrea Risebrough, who also seems to get called Cat and C'lette by family and others) seem to have something in common: neither seems quite at home with where they are, Mac within his team (and, as with so many other figures before him, he has his own internal tout or squealer to lean on), and Collette, looking very out of place both at Brendan's funeral and at her mother's house, which is where she lives with her son Mark (we do not know Mark's father or what, if anything, happened to him).

The film is set in 1993, but we have seen the death of Collette's kid brother Sean twenty years before, and there are other deaths or attempted killings in this present - having seen Collette send her brother out to buy fags for their father, because she wants to play with making necklaces, we know something of the background to what happened to her. If it is meant to be a surprise that she is trying to plant a bomb on the Underground, then it is not, but we know very little about what else she has done, except presumably that she blamed her brother's death on a unionist terror-group or the British Army.

She is caught and apparently talked into being an informer, but she seems so awkward at explaining what happened to her in London that it seems unlikely that she would convince Kevin Mulville (David Wilmot), who wants to know (and who does not seem consistently mentally alive as a villain). Maybe being caught and put under pressure is a new situation for Collette, but it seems hard to believe that Mac has not before been in a position where the information that his plant is passing on, if acted on, could implicate or threaten him or her, which, here, he seems to care about, and, which is the way with films, as if anew.

That said, Owen delivers a very polished and unforced performance (but only billed in the closing credits as 'with', for some reason), and seems to be - more or less - in control until the end. Yet what I envisaged would happen does, and we are left wondering how it could not have been foreseen (by him), given the choice that he gave someone close to Collette, when it was highly likely that he or she would do as we see. Besides which, his putting of that choice leads him off the end of the plank with his colleagues, and Mac's position is then untenable.

However, it was regrettable that the little homage, obviously inspired by having Gillian Anderson on the crew (and I did not realize, until afterwards, that it was she) as Mac's boss Kate, to agents standing significantly in a field of a backlit golden crop, X-Files style, is chosen as the medium for making known what happened to the other tout. The agents are even dressed in that fashion: or are we meant to believe that their screen counterparts (the first series began this year) have inspired them to copy?

We are left by this film, as we are at the beginning, by Collette's face**, calmly and carefully photographed as thoughts and feelings pass over it, but we know now that they may be unknown to us: we do, though, know what has just happened.

The implication is that whatever we thought that we might have known about her, we did not, and there are obvious parallels with Jovovich's title character from Salt (2010), except that it is a far inferior film whose plot does not remotely fit together, and this one, by Tom Bradby from his novel, very nearly does (even if, at first sight, there are doubts about it***).

There is one scene between Collette and Mac that, however, defies belief except as an attempt to subvert one's expectations (even if hinted at by Anderson), and which the film / plot is the weaker for. Nothing hangs on it, except that Owen only posed the choice that he did because of it, and could only do so because he delved where he should not have done. Oh, and how likely is it, that, when Mac knows all that he does about all those with whom Collette is involved, this important detail could simply have been kept from him?

The question of who is expendable is, as ever, the name of the game - and, if you can run with it uncritically***, there is plenty of scope for finding people who seek to be the sacrificial victim, not least when Mulville turns his unwelcome attention on Domnhall Gleeson, playing Collette's brother Conor. Fine for him to torture his own, but he seems too sinister, less matter of fact, for my liking, as if a villain trying to get detail from Commander Bond... Maybe there were some such individuals for whom power and giving pain were something that attracted them in the IRA or the like, but there is too much of a feel of the extraordinary, when more solid

As I am suggesting, although Tom Bradby apparently had experience of this period as a correspondent in Ireland, the story ultimately seems too much like a typical agent /double agent / triple agent motif transported to that world, and did not seem to sit happily there. For, yes, betrayals, pacts and sacrifices were, of course, part of that world during what euphemistically got called the troubles, but this is not a film with the finesse of Tinker Tailor, and gets a little too close to a few rather too unusual individuals to tell a really convincing overall story.

Just take the ending, for example: whatever Collette tells Mark, he and she are in the aftermath of an event whose severe consequences they will be hard pressed to escape - even if they are (which they might not be) with greater resources than just their own - and are also clouded by evidence of her past, which has not simply disappeared. Risebrough, too, has made a choice about her son's and her survival, but it is far from clear that it will pay off, or pay off for long.


More now : Collette revisited (thanks to @dannytheleigh)


End-notes

* The poster says Collette - I rather think that IMDb is wrong and has misled me with the spelling 'Colette'.

** It seems that Risebrough is thirty, but she has the type of face that can look very different at different times, and, unfortunately, does, such that she seems too young to have been seven or so in 1973 much of the time, and only occasionally looks old enough: her face also transforms dramatically with a smile, and smiles are rare here.

*** I say that this film would not hang together, from start to finish, if you have seen it and know the ending.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

How do you weigh 16,000 animals? Has AOL® done a Freudian*?

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23 August

It's easy to get a meetkat on to the scales[...]



Meetkat**? So they're not these cute animals with the comedy voices, then? - they're a source of food!

Good, eat the lot of 'em!



End-notes

* Or, as I first typed, Has AOL® 'done a Fruedian'?

** I am not convinced, either, that AOL is spared by the entry in the so-called
urban dictionary
...






Thursday, 16 August 2012

My two-Tweet story...

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16 August

Emperor Kafka, determined to prove that he was not a God, ordered his driver to drive at The Great Wall. One pranged motor, not a scratch.

From then on, his Cnut test having backfired, he believed more fervently than anyone else, his days spent apart, weeping for his people.




Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Nocturnes or Why the hell did I write that? (2)

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16 August

* Contains complete spoiler detail *

This is the low-down on the show-down that is Cringe in the First Person!


Story One:


Crooner


Location : Venice



Narrator : Jan, nicknamed Janeck, the implausible guitarist, haling from 'back in the communist days' behind The Iron Curtain



Others : Tony and Lindy Gardner, Vittorio



Offstage : Janeck's mother, somehow a black-market Tony Gardner fan


Premise : the story told, such as it is, sounds like nonsense, unless under the spell of Gee, I met Mr Gardner in person, and he said and did this! But we cannot be made fans for a singer beloved of the narrator's mother, and it is not even as if she is being told the story of his chance encounter with the crooner:

Tony Gardner had been my mother's favourite. Back home, back in the communist days, it had been really hard to get records like that, but my mother had pretty much his whole collection. [She slept with the boss of the local equivalent of the Stasi??]


Apart from the saps reading the book, who would listen to this story, and what point is there in telling it? - two questions that Ishiguro simply did not engage with, although they are crucial to telling a tale, which is that Tony needs a new wife for his flagging career, so out with Lindy, and they have come away to have a special trip together before they separate.

Janeck's failure to understand these worldly ways is the main intrigue (please see the quotation below), and also the vaguely interesting question whether, in the circumstances, Lindy will want to be serenaded in their hotel room with a few of Mr Gardner's hits (via Vittorio's gondoliering and Janeck's accompaniment).



Tics : Characterized by dialogue littered with excessive deference to his mother's has-been idol, who is always 'Mr Gardner', and by Crooner Tony's equivalent characterization in the form of referring to the younger man as 'friend', from time to time, and overemphasizing his non-capitalist upbringing (of which sod all is conveyed, although we are told that it is now a democracy):

He did another of his sighs. 'How would you understand, my friend, coming from where you do? But you've been kind to me tonight, so I'm gonna try and explain it [sc. splitting up from his wife].'



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Visiting The Lakes

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15 August

* Contains spoilers *

I have never been to The Lake District (true), but the first episode of Jimmy McGovern's The Lakes provides ample reason to go, and no excuses (not even vertigo, as one does not have to venture into the peaks to see their beauty).

It is a real treat to be back with a four-part story that seemed to be self contained, until a second series (which I felt would ruin things to watch) came along at some point, and it is quite possibly where I started with John Simm (excellent as Danny Kavanagh, and the equally excellent Emma Cunliffe as her namesake Emma Kavanagh [
IMDb does not yield her maiden name in the credits])!

So far, which means that this is a partial report on the four-parter, the sex has been entirely convincing (even with the girls whom Danny and his two mates pick up in a car that they have taken without its owner's consent (TWOC, hence twocking)) and passionate. As there is such a slow build-up to Emma and Danny sleeping with each other, the intensity and variety of their love-making is especially delightful.

I start with sex, because, generally sex, sexual attraction, jealousy and sexual frustration are what pushes many people on or together, although that description makes it seem obvious (when it is not) and cheap (which it also is not). That said, the lusty chef (Charles Dale, just credited as Chef by
IMDb) is brutal, cynical and out for what he can get, but such is life.

With Danny, we see him struggle with strong temptation, and also, rather endearingly, indulge in petty crime to make good money that he loses: Emma and he, established on the coach out of Liverpool when he absconds from home, are an excellent main focus for us at this stage against the back-drop of her parents' (Danny's only visit from Liverpool) and others' lives.


To be continued



Monday, 13 August 2012

Firewalls at Writer's Rest

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14 August


Just a little leisurely winding-down (for me, as I'm not in The States) conversation with Lindsay at
Writer's Rest about what a firewall is and how to picture it.

I'm sure that any other views or images would be very welcome...



Saturday, 11 August 2012

Where it all started with Woody and film

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12 August

As an enthusiast, I cannot help watching What's New, Pussycat? (1965), and wonder what it would have been, if Woody Allen's script from the swinging sixties had been kept intact.

There are traces of what seems his humour in exchanges such as when Victor, played by Allen, is told I can't make love with a person in the closet!, and he retorts to ask how many people, then, does she need in it? If it was his entire screenplay, which I'm sure that I gather that it was not, would that have had a chase with go-karts towards the end, before a muted non-sequitur finale?

As it stands, the plot takes us from A to B just about, but probably the most entertaining aspect of it is from when Ursula Andress literally drops into shot, exuding unashamed sex appeal, albeit as an implausible parachutist with what others like to call 'no back story' - what Thurber called Sex ex machina. Otherwise, that is when the film itself descends into the weakest and most stupid of farces, probably pretty unworthy of the relative sophistication of what went before.

When still in Paris, we see little but interiors, the most 'charming' being Victor's artist's garret, complete with tree-trunk staircase, but the most winning outside shots are of where Dr Fassbender (Peter Sellers) and his Wagnerian wife live, and are having an argument about his relations with patients at the outset. Sellers is terrifically funny, with his immaculate timing and delivery, not least in this scene, where Allen's writing shows.

Allen himself has limited opportunities to shine, though he does, and Romy Schneider excels in a trio with Capucine and Paula Prentiss, all after the body of Michael James (Peter O'Toole). O'Toole's comedic flair, as more of a straight man than Sellers, is also to the fore as this suitably unreal sex-magnet, and they bring this skit on sex and attraction up from two stars to three.



Turing tested

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12 August




Turing tested

For Lucy


Can we can safely say
That, not having
An optical computer,
Alan Turing could have been
On the German side
Without a difference?:

The Allies had, not just him,
But secure code-books,
A machine that Axis hadn't seen
(Without Enigma's flaw),
And the Germans not knowing
Enigma and Lorenz cracked

So the Germans had their pride,
Relying on technology whose
Non-self-encryption
Left them more open,

And, never knowing the truth,
Could only have set Turing
A tougher task: to break
The Allies' code,
Probably not listening
If he challenged their
Self-assurance


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Responding like Shostakovich

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11 August

It was decided to give Dmitri S. a hrad* time, as a delayed response, to Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (which I have not knowingly heard any more than an extract from (long frogotten**), nor do I know where M. is).

Let's say that Stalin took offence at the work. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't (though he could have done: he heard things, and he didn't always like - or condemn - them), but it was the official line.

DS took the official way of reply, saying that he was responding to just criticism, and the work disappeared, I gather, for three decades, with DS having a hard time and having to abandon his formalist ways (in public, anyway, even if he was composing his string quartets on the sly).

All this, it is clear enough, is happening on the surface - publicly and officially, the work (and DS with it) was condemned, so no point defending it, but does it tell us anything?


Yes, maybe a bit, because if you think that this posting is crap, you can add a coment to that effect. If, because it is not the Soviet might against DS, I just call you a troll***, does that mean anything in any objective terms, or is it just a label, like reactionary, liberalism or - that wonder of wonders for a fairly meaningless phrase - political correctness?

Obviously, it means that I disagree violently not with what you have said (but with you!), and want you to go away, a stage on from finding your message in my spam folder and, deciding that it is spam, deleting it. If I were hacking your page and putting anti-Islamic or -Pakistani slogans on there, maybe, and maybe a call to the police, before you get blamed for some sort of incitement, but what about trying to tell you that perhaps you are wrong?

Really a response to just criticism to lash out with You're trolling my blog!, because you can't stand the heat in the kitchen? After all, who lit the flames with his or her blog to begin with - and isn't it there for anyone to read and maybe disagree with? If a reader responds by trying to engage with the arguments and refute them, that isn't wrecking activity in my mind, but, more importantly, the response to that criticism (not accepting it as possibly just, just trolling) may be indicative of insecurity and an inability to accept the hypocrisy of the position argued for, of not practising what one preaches.

And as for political correctness, if we mean using the right words, but then actually 'queer bashing' with the best of 'em, then that's just whited sepulchres, hypocrisy, and a bogus party-line, seeking to get the minority vote...


End-notes

* Sorry, not thinking about Prague - honestly!

** I shall keep that in, too, never having managed to wrap my fingers around that one before.

** I don't know who originated this faintly idiotic description, probably someone who's never read Peer Gynt, but my sister and I (at a lunch-stop by rail between Bergen and Oslo) met a troll in 1973 and were awarded a certificate, so they can't be all bad!


Friday, 10 August 2012

Performance in proposal: Bach's Mass in B Minor

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10 August

I heard much of the re-broadcast Prom in which this work was given at the weekend.

There, they took a break after the Gloria, and resumed with the Credo, but this afternoon proceeded with only a few words from the presenter folowing the applause at the end of what was its first half.

But, as I queried recently in an informal chat with one of the directors of a festival (which had done likewise), it may be the organizers' and the audience's idea, after around one hour of music, to resume after tea, wine, cake or strawberries, but is that best for the work?

I think not: I think that the Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) builds, and that, if people can turn up for a play and find that the performance runs for 90 minutes to 2 hours without an interval, they could and should with this work, rather than interposing the trivial things entailed in an interval.

With the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) (I have a posting called
Meditations on Matthew), however, I do not think so, because it is in two Parts, and anyway runs to longer than 3 hours - having heard it without a break, I would not wish to do so again, even if that means I am faint hearted: by the standard of Bach's day, I certainly am, where complaining that a sermon was longer than 20 to 25 minutes would have been ludicrous, and the Passion itself would have had worship, too, before, between and after each Part, plus that full-length sermon.


Elsewhere, I complained that Stravinsky's Mass, when - for once - it was broadcast live (or at all), had interpolations from the seventeenth century. For me, having an interval in Bach's masterpiece is alike unnecessary.


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Toilets

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9 August

I've just Tweeted for the first time about toilets, wondering, if a toilet can have a gender, how much it has cost for signage for these male and female toilets - and then you go to go in Café Rouge, and its Messieurs.

My follow-up Tweet asked: how would you like, at a wedding, to be invited as male and female guests to be silent for the male marriage-partner to make his speech?


Catch up with me @TheAgentApsley


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Dr Emily Gibson pronounces

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8 August

'End The War On Pubic Hair' Doctor Emily Gibson Urges, As She Warns Of Boils, Pustules And Even MRSA

She sounds more like an Old Testament prophet than an MD!


An image of...?

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8 August




Who could it - momentarily - be thought to be (not as a contemporary shot, though)?

Or is that just me, thinking that someone else's look has been assumed?


Who remembers The Tichborne Claimant (1998)

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8 August

I saw the film in its time, because I was fascinated that one of the pieces contained in A Universal History of Infamy, by Jorge Luis Borges, shared its subject-matter (not so, as yet, the tale of Widow Ching, Lady Pirate).

I remember little about it, but see that Stephen Fry was in it, which is plausible. It came to mind, because I was reading promotional material for The Imposter (2012) plus Q&A, and it seemed, as does The Return of Martin Guerre (1982), a better reference-point than The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) - even if Matt Damon is in it - or the other feature that it mentioned.

But maybe not...


A new comic-strip - Bradshaw and French

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9 August

The difference being that there's just the dialogue - the comic bit is so passé!

I say, Bradshaw, what's that thing with its teeth in your trousers?

Dunno, French, but I'll kill it off with a bad review, as usual!



Le motto: Wouldn't know a good film, if...


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Pap instead of news-reporting

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8 August

From Yahoo!®, 's e-mail sign-on page:

As the search continues for 12-year-old Tia Sharp, members of her local community have pledged to do all they can to help find her


Irrespective of the cause, why the same stale expressions? Those first four words, for example, which pointlessly have to link with something else.

What they mean is that, although the search has gone on for x hours / days, they're not giving up.

But, as for this pledge nonsense - Pledge is a household product, and no one was signing documents to say that they would persist.

Nor were they from her local community - realistically, the middle word does not add anything, nor does 'to do all they can'.


Madonna works tight knee-high boots (according to AOL®)

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8 August

So is it G4S Games absconders who write this stuff?

Is there no sense that, whatever people nowadays might really mean (if they stopped to ask) by some model or starlet working whatever clothing it may be, working something tight (or loose) means something, too?

Or why the hell do I despair at the typical knowledge-base of a human being?


Monday, 6 August 2012

Thursday, 2 August 2012

KST / Bradshaw

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)



This was meant to be a draft, for me to use to comment on what the great Messrs Bradshaw and French have 'made of' this film, but it seems to have gone live - whatever they have to say...


Philip French:

In Your Hands (aka Contre toi) is a subtle psychological thriller, the second full-length feature by the French writer-director Lola Doillon, but the first to be shown here. A claustrophobic virtual two-hander, it stars Kristin Scott Thomas as confident, childless divorcee Anna Cooper, a surgeon working in the obstetrics and gynaecology department of a prison hospital, and Pio Marmaï as Yann, a wild young man.In Your HandsProduction year: 2012Country: FranceCert (UK): 15Runtime: 81 minsDirectors: Lola DoillonCast: Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Kristin Scott Thomas, Pio MarmaiMore on this filmAt the beginning Anna appears distraught but carefully controlled, running from a shabby suburban house to her smart Parisian apartment. The movie doesn't leave us long to wonder about her conduct. She goes to the police to report her abduction, and in a tensely developed flashback we learn that she has been held in a cellar by Yann, the vengeful husband of a patient who died during a Caesarean operation carried out by Anna. In this first part there's an emotional ebb and flow, the threat of violence and some physical conflict, as the two discuss the case and its emotional ramifications.In the second part, a delayed instance of the Stockholm syndrome, some mixture of guilt and sympathy seems to draw Anna to seek out Yann. A passionate affair ensues that is in its way as dangerous as the period of incarceration, possibly more so. The end is abrupt and not entirely satisfactory, but it's a convincingly performed and constantly intriguing film


Kristin Scott Thomas gives us another movie in a distinctive genre that she has made her own: modern day, no makeup, speaking French, transgressive sex. It's an intense and claustrophobic two-hander, well acted – especially by her – but frankly a bit of a shaggy-dog story with a faintly unsatisfactory ending. Scott Thomas plays Anna Cooper, a single professional woman living on her own in Paris and a bit of a workaholic. The name signals that, though a fluent and idiomatic French speaker, she is British but otherwise there is no back story. At the beginning of a rare holiday, Anna comes into traumatic contact with an intense figure: Yann, played by Pio Marmaï, and their encounter becomes a terrifying ordeal. The film begins intriguingly and promises much, with an interesting flashback structure which initially conceals as much as it reveals. But in its third act, the movie runs out of ideas and has no more to tell us. Set alongside Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long (2008) and Catherine Corsini's Leaving (2009), In Your Hands showcases of one of this country's most remarkable screen performers, a vividly intelligent presence – but it does not quite work. PB


Big bloody news: King Juan Carlos of Spain trips over (according to AOL®)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


2 August

No doubt there's an awkward piece of footage, showing the royal foot stumbling over something - do we think that it was the right one, or the left?

And did Juan Carlos - just in case we don't know where he is king of (as I am not aware of any other king so named), we have to be told - just trip, or did he actually stumble and end up on the floor, crying Shit!?

And is it better or worse than when the poor blighter sneezed yesterday, maybe three times in succession? And, if so, better or worse than when Beckham (unofficial King of Span) tripped over in 2007...?


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

An ambivalence for Kristin - first thoughts

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2012
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


2 August

* Contains spoilers - if you can still catch this film, you probably would not wish to know too much *


We see characteristics of Dr Anna Cooper (though her name and profession do not emerge until we hear her listening to her answering-machine), at the outset of this film, that will haunt its progress and eventual ending, did we but know it: I planned to go back to see whether that foreknowledge matters, and, having done so, can say that it does not.

To my taste, Kristin Scott Thomas inhabited the difficult role of Anna to perfection, for she drives and dictates so much of the pace, although, given that she has been kidnapped, one might assume that she is not in control. In this respect, the title in English, In Your Hands, cleverly exploits an ambiguity of the original, Contre Toi, whereas it has to be said that the subtitles are a somewhat ham-fisted affair.

For example, after Anna has been given the response of I sure do when asked whether she likes tea, the utterance Avec plaisir, when she is offered some, is rendered a little more convincingly along the lines of I'd love some. My ability to keep up with spoken French is not brilliant, but I can usually get the gist of dialogue, guided by what I see. Not here, where such a freedom - clearly for the benefit of speakers of US English - had been taken with the tone and style.

It can sometimes be a slow matter of engaging with a film when one is relating to such a familiar face as that of KST, and almost admiring the acting, rather than - if this denotes the separate thing that I intend - following the performance.

For me, an important moment to settle me in was to see her responding to the messages on her answering-machine, following an absence, but also to see how I would relate to her as a doctor, when she arrives and dresses for work at the hospital. (In this film, her name is the closest that we get to an explanation for anyone detecting that she is not French, which I am sure that the noisy pair of couples behind and to the side of me would have made grist to their mill of whispering / talking through the film, since they also laughed at several inappropriate moments.)


Anyone who did not see a poster or other advertising for this film beforehand will not know that they had to envisage, as they were watching what unfolded, how a certain scene would be reached. In fact, I almost came to wonder whether the image had just been - which it is not - a teaser to set the audience off on the wrong scent. Not that this is a thriller, but it is about psychology, about what makes people tick, have the upper hand, in the relations with each other.

And not in a calculating way largely, because there is a lot of instinct at work, and - if we are not busy laughing in a way that suggests we should have left the film to those who wanted to watch it - it will be open to interpretation quite what is happening. No dogma here about even what happens, let alone the rights and wrongs, and in the intelligent domain of films such as Haneke's Hidden (2005) and Code Unknown (2000) (of both of which I was reminded early on), if not equally of The Woman in the Fifth (2011).


More to come...