Sunday, August 03, 2008

Playing Silly Buggers

Why do we bother with August? What really is its point? Especially now that it’s recognised as the height of the silly season. The phrase is meant to refer solely to the time of year newspapers fill column inches with tales of complete numptidom because newsworthy events are in short supply. That’s because everyone of importance has fucked off on holiday leaving everyone else simply fucked off, but in recent years it seems to have seeped off the page and ingrained itself across the whole of the media.

Obviously the fourth estate is still keeping its side of the bargain, especially when broadsheets like The Times give space to Katie Price so she can gripe about having her plastic tits turned away from China White’s corporate entertainment tent at the Cartier Polo International event. The newspaper was also keen to report the LAPD Police Chief’s insightful response to whether the city needs anti-paparazzi laws: “If you notice, since Britney started wearing clothes and behaving; Paris is out of town not bothering anybody anymore, thank God, and evidently, Lindsay Lohan has gone gay, we don’t seem to have much of an issue.”

Meanwhile the telly gradually gets rubbish as the evenings grow lighter until, as any fool know, reaching the apogee this month because the broadcasters don’t expect anyone to be indoors anyway. Obviously there are the occasional gems, but for the most part it feels like we could just as well tape road-kill to the screen and then smear it in shit. The lacklustre schedules appear more and more as a ploy to make the junk that washes up in the new autumn schedule look nifty by comparison.

Of course this August we have the added bonus of the Summer Olympics spunked all over the schedules in the coming weeks. Yeah, that’ll really be something special, won’t it? Does anybody really cares about who gets the gongs? I’ve always thought it’s who’s going to get caught out jazzing themselves up with monkey glands, along with this year’s added bonus of who gets run over by the tanks.

Still, we can always pop along to the nearest cinema. Except, with the British Board of Film Classification inexplicably redefining lenience, they’re now full of little mouthy fuckers who are spending their holidays being plain annoying rather than knifing each other’s heads off. As for the films, do we need another sequel to The Mummy? The first film was great, the second a piece of shit, and now comes a third outing written by the clowns behind Smallville that features an ancient Chinese emperor who hasn’t even been mummified.

Before that, what’s with The X-Files coming back? Does anyone really give a damn about it anymore? Judging from the box-office, obviously not. It has been odd checking out what audiences in America were interested in and what they abandoned. Executives for 20th Century Fox are probably preparing to take a last look around their offices. The studio’s last three movies – The X-Files: I Want To Believe, Space Chimps and Dave – all arrived at the box office stillborn. Apparently the utter failure of the latter officially makes Eddie Murphy box-office poison.

So, there we go. I suppose the thing to do is look for the good things. In the past weeks Giles Coren was outed as a self-aggrandizing, foul-mouthed fuckstain, thereby proving that talent does indeed skip a generation. Meanwhile Steven Moffat deserved to be lauded when, at the San Diego Comic Con, he admitted his admiration for The Doctor finally ditching Rose in the season finale of Doctor Who, observing, “You have to hand it to the Doctor for dumping a slightly needy girlfriend by palming her off on a copy of himself.”

There’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army on the way, which should be a good laugh, even if the box-office suggests it’s the end of the road for the onscreen adventures of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence. This week coming sees the arrival of Harps and Angels, the first new Randy Newman album since 1999’s marvellous Bad Love. Yesterday the BBC Proms celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Halle Orchestra by broadcasting a programme that included an inspired rendition of George Butterworth’s rhapsody, A Shropshire Lad, bookended by the A.E. Houseman poetry that inspired it.

I suppose it really does come down to finding the magical moments in life and enjoying them for what they are. While in the meantime taking the piss of everything else.


At 1:34 am, Blogger Ian said...

Surprised you haven't mentioned "Dark Knight" - had a chance to see it yet? I really thought that despite its (admittedly considerable) flaws, it really was something very special. Can't remember the last time a film still had me thinking about it the way this one has me thinking a week or so after seeing it.

Bad news that Hellboy II isn't performing, as del Toro sounded confident that there'd be a third. Looking forward to seeing the preview with a Q&A from the man himself at the NFT later this month.

As for "The X Files". I was going to go - but then read the reviews. While they're blaming the poor US box office on "Dark Knight" it's clear from the reviews that are all pretty consistent that Carter and Spotnitz have screwed up by writing an extremely average 90's TV episode instead of a proper movie.

At 5:16 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Ian, hopefully I’ll catch The Dark Knight sometime this week. I tend not to go the opening week if it’s a popular film because the cinemas are usually stuffed full.

It is a shame about Hellboy. I thought the first movie was cracking. After an opening weekend in the States of just over $34.5m (on a budget of $85m, without P&A costs factored in), in the second week The Golden Army’s box office dropped by almost 71%. Four weeks on it’s only reached $71m and change.

The Universal suits and numbers men probably aren’t that amused. There’s always the overseas box office, DVDs and TV sales to come, but right now the studio’s summer film that is showing a decent return is Mamma Mia!

The first Hellboy was made at Sony, the second at Universal. Maybe if he wants to make a third del Toro may have to shop it around or do one for the studio first.

Why The X-Files has come back around is beyond me, especially with such a dull story. The whole alien invasion shtick was the only thing the show had in the end, even if it did end up as a horrible mess. Certainly one to miss.

At 7:28 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

I’m with Ian on The Dark Knight - a little flawed in places (I mean, how gruff can someone make their alter ego voice before they need to start saying “In a world...”?) - but they really were minor things. A pleasingly complex, twisty-turny special bit of cinema for me. GD, fancy catching it hereabouts if you can get up soon? I’m deffo up for seeing it again. And popcorn, natch. ;-)

It’s a pisser about Hellboy II not generating huge bucks (though post-run sales of DVDs are not an insignificant part of the overall picture) - the trailers looked glorious without being too ‘look at the shiny, shiny, you ill-mannered proles’ and Ron Perlman is almost always worth the price of admission alone. I’m even beginning to put together quite a respect for the Goss boy, whose acting chops are consistently above most of those who make the move from music to the big screen.

The only reason I’d watch the X-Files thing is to see if Billy’s putting in one of his good performances. He can hit the high notes well occasion. Just never gave a flying crap about the show when it was on.

Saw Mamma Mia! and really, really enjoyed it. The whole cast are great and, of course, I’d happily have paid twice just to watch the bits with Julie Walters in - she’s bloody marvellous. Still, I’ve been an Abba fan since the beginning, so I’m happy hearing anyone have a stab at the tunes, including Pierce Brosnan, who made a fine job of it. Why everyone’s been having such a pop at him about his singing is baffling me - this isn’t supposed to be about operatic virtuosos, surely? Anyway, what would I know, I’ve only been singing for twenty-odd years... ;-)

Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is indeed very good. Even as something of a cypher, he’s very three-dimensional and you could believe that this shabby lunatic could gradually get everyone dancing to his tune. And of course, Caine and Freeman are subtly superb, casually stealing every scene that they’re in seemingly effortlessly. A good reason to go and sit in the dark and be transported elsewhere, I’d say.

At 10:57 pm, Blogger fourstar said...

"In the past weeks Giles Coren was outed as a self-aggrandizing, foul-mouthed fuckstain, thereby proving that talent does indeed skip a generation."

Utter shite. Everything he complained about was correct, from the most basic of grammatical errors to the annihilation of meter. Standing up for your right to not be (sub)edited out of existence is surely acceptable to anyone with half a clue about modern journalistic opportunity.

He may have been rude and insulting, but he was correct. No? Would you have been happy with that?

At 11:30 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Oh for fuck sake, no, you suck it up and get on with the next article. Taking a massive shit on underpaid subs because they dropped a schoolboy suck job gag, especially by email – actually putting something on paper! – shows that you’re not only a cock but a total cock. With or without the “a” it was a horribly clumsy fucking sentence.

The only time I had changes made to an article by a sub, the page layout meant there was space left for additional copy. Rather than call and see if I had any extra material to add they took sections from a press release. No real problem there, except the screenwriter I had interviewed and quoted was, after this introduction, named by his surname. The press release section used his forename and they didn’t swap it over.

At 12:45 am, Blogger qrter said...

I was a huge X-Files fan at the time, well, until the last season, that is, which quickly drained all the life out of the series.

I must say I was surprised they were making another film, seemed rather pointless to me, guess it seems pointless to most people. Anyway, more surprising than the zombie sequel was reading that it's only been 6 years since the series ended. Six years! It feels like it was ages ago.

I loved the first Hellboy too, I am looking forward to the second. To be fair, the first one wasn't exactly box office gold either, so why the second one would do much better I wouldn't know.

That said, the first one did do quite well on DVD. According to Kevin Smith that's where the real money is, these days. He said that more and more theatrical releases are seen by the studios as big, flashy trailers for the DVD releases. He keeps making movies because of the money coming in from DVD sales, not because of box office.

At 7:13 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I congratulate you on getting that far with The X-Files. I watched it religiously until partway through the third season and then intermittently for the next few years by which time I had had more than enough. It could have been a great series but they just pissed it away, which was a great shame.

Given there’s not much to watch this evening, I’ve got the season one DVD boxset on the shelf here so I might watch a couple of episodes.

You’re right about the first Hellboy movie. It didn’t set the box office alight, which is why the sequel was made at a different studio. Kevin Smith’s obviously right, but his films are relatively low budget. The first Hellboy was certainly produced for far less than the $85 million of The Golden Army. Then there’s also the cost of prints and advertising to factor in for this sequel, so there is still quite a risk in making a decent profit.

Really, I hope it does make it’s money back and, somewhere down the line, we get a third movie.

At 12:51 am, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

Mr Coren is a spoilt, petulant little primma donna, probably because, thanks to his family connections, he's never had to do an actual day's work in his life.

I'd love to see how he'd react to a real problem.

It's a comforting thought, however, that for as long as he works in the business, every sub-editor who ever has sight of his copy will be quietly searching for a way to fuck with him.

On the subject of The X-Files, was it ever that good?

There's a massive audience for adult sci-fi (look at the initial ratings for junk like Torchwood) and I think the show just got lucky in that it was launched at a time when there was nothing else of that type on screen anywhere.

How the movie got made, and why anyone would pay to see it, is a mystery that deserves an X-File of its own.

At 2:53 pm, Blogger qrter said...

One of my favourite episodes pops up in season 6. It's episode 15, "Monday".

It's a bit like Groundhogday gone really, really bad: "A woman experiences the same day over and over in an attempt to save Mulder and Scully from being killed by her boyfriend during a bank robbery. As time continues repeating itself, Mulder becomes more and more aware that he's been there before, and tries to figure out a way to prevent the actions from occurring."

Now, that Mulder would start remembering something that has never happened to him, sounds silly, but the episode pulls it off. The main focus is on the woman, less on Mulder and Scully, although they are integral to the plot.

I highly recommend it, I really do.


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