Monday, 8 December 2008

Quantum Entanglement

Today I went to see James Bond 22: THE QUANTUM SHOELACE. The baddies wanted to control the water supply, like in CHINATOWN. The main baddie was played by Mathieu Amalric. He looks a bit like Roman Polanski, I think.

You might think that's enough coincidence for one day, but no! There are stronger, stranger forces at work here: the families of both men their have their roots in the same Polish village!

Yes, even as I type, THE QUANTUM SHOELACE snakes through the eyelets of probability, intensifying the pinch of Schrodinger's brogues around the bunioned feet of existence. Where will it strike next? When? Are any of us safe from its probing aglet?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

I can't believe I missed this

Pretty much the first thing I do when I get up in the morning is go on the internet and check who died in the night. I'm obsessed. Ikimono no kiroku that, if I take my eye off this morbid ball for even a second, my favourite people will stop living and will go unmourned into the bargain.

Imagine, then, my shock, shame and, why can't I think of a third one? Anyway, imagine all that when I caught a few minutes of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT this lunchtime and resolved to find out what Jerry Reed had been in lately - the last thing I really remember him being in was 1983's SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT PART 3 so maybe "lately" is the wrong word to use.

Well, it turns out "lately" is exactly the right word to use because Jerry Reed became The Late Jerry Reed on September 1st of this year. I feel especially guilty about missing this because now I have wronged him twice over. 
You see, as a little kid, I loved SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (ditto CANNONBALL RUN, HOOPER and anything else with car chases where the authority figures end up in a pond) but I did NOT love Jerry Reed's character, Cledus "Snowman" Snow. In fact, I thought he was a bit rubbish. I thought he was rubbish because he wore red trousers. I thought he was rubbish because he wore a bodywarmer. Most of all though, I guess I thought he was rubbish because he was a normal man, because he was not The Bandit.

Well, I was a fool. I was a fool to fall under the spell of that vainglorious lout, The Bandit but I was double the fool to deny the value of this decent, dependable everyman. The Snowman was cool and I should have realised it sooner. From now on, every time I slide  SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT into my VCR, it will be to appreciate the understated heroism of the man in the truck, bodywarmer and red trousers.

I wanted this to be more of an apology than an obituary so i wasn't going to put a clip up but he seems to be having such a good time in this one, I thought it'd be a shame not to. And if you don't like the music, just turn the sound off and enjoy the suits!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Childhood Traumas 1-3 or: How I Became the Man I'm Not

Dum-dum! When I was just a little boy...

...I saw some stuff that scored deep grooves in my subconscious. But you can relax - I'm not talking about sex stuff. I would never talk about sex stuff. I'm talking about small, scary snatches (not that kind of scary snatch - I would never talk about scary snatch stuff) of sound and light sundered from their wider cinematic contexts. The type of moment (found most commonly in the mind of the Human Parent) which, in the middle of certain movies, whizzes from the memory vault to the talk box, inducing the viewer to blurt out "Wait a minute - I've...I've seen this before! And it was horrible!"

What's so interesting about that? Maybe nothing, except that I experienced it twice in one day! Almost thrice! Sort of! It was an alarming example of synchronicity which, I am reliably informed, is not just an album by The Police. I'm not the best conceptualational explainologist so I have engaged Robert Duvall to feed you the basics:

Have you got it yet? Okay, let's go.

As a kid, I would sometimes be allowed to stay over at my friend's house. He had a television set in his bedroom! This meant that we could watch terrifying things late at night! Two I can definitely remember watching were THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and THE SWARM. Nothing too horrible there, unless you're scared of safari jackets and corrugated hairstyles.

But Old Man Terror eventually crowbars his way into every young life and one dark night he got his jimmy into me! A late film featuring an unseen assailant, a tenderising mallet, a bloody kitchen, a dead woman and small, bloody handprints on a white balustrade all added up to the TV being switched off and Trauma Number One.

The groping claw of Trauma Number Two found me at my parents' friends' house. I must have been really young for this one because i can remember real excitement at being allowed to change the channels on the TV. I found a channel where some people were looking at a water-wheel. Great! There were some soldiers there. Greater! Then the water-wheel rotated a bit further and everything went horrible! There was a mangled soldier caught up in the blades and some of them had bitten into his back. Mum! Mum! I don't like this!

trauma number three is written in lower case because I was a bit older and knew what the film was. It still carries unpleasant memories, but for different reasons: I was playing outside and a barbed-wire spike went through my fingernail and come out of the other side. It hurt so I went home. After getting cleaned up, I watched BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI with my dad. 

Flash forward a decade to my 20th birthday. I receive three videos: THE BROOD, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED and BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. Great! I'll watch them all today! 

I put THE BROOD on first and THIS happens:

I eject the tape with pounding heart and shaking fingers. I still haven't watched the rest of it.

Next, I put on THE EAGLE HAS LANDED (a film with the mystical power to make it Sunday afternoon no matter what day it is) and, at around the half-way mark, A SOLDIER GETS MANGLED BY A WATER WHEEL! It's not really such a bad image when taken in context by a human adult and I manfully sit through the rest of the movie. 

What are the chances, though? Two in one day! I eye the next video case with suspicion, half expecting some barbed wire to appear from nowhere and pierce my digit, like a very mild, rural version of what happens at the end of HELLRAISER.

BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI makes everything all right again. Either that or it shames me into adopting a stiff upper lip about the whole freakish episode.

Is this what Robert Duvall was talking about? I must admit, I didn't quite follow him.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Imaginary Titles

Don't get too excited - I'm not talking about Count Dante, Baron Corvo or Prince d'Anjou Durazzo Durassow Romanoff Dolgorouki de Bourbon-Conde.

I'm talking about titles for biographies. There are a number of biographies boasting titles so wildly awful that I'm surprised the dust jackets they're printed on didn't catch fire out of professional shame. 


I actually own a copy of this but mine has a different cover: Eastwood is (thankfully) less nude and "Sexual Cowboy" is stamped across his forehead, presumably as some kind of warning.

Thanks to David Cairns, benevolent dictator of Shadowplay, for this misbegotten mess*. He's really said everything that needs to be said about the title, so I'll just draw your attention to the excruciating mishmash of typefaces. Why is the author's name written like that? It's a book, not a Nazi crate.

It's not the pun that distresses me so much - it's the cumbersome explanation underneath it. If you have to explain who somebody is on the cover of their biography then the title you wrote hasn't done its job. Frankly, I'm a little surprised Walter Newkirk hasn't popped an expository sentence under his own name too. He is probably too famous for such clumsy elucidations. Perhaps this Edie Beale of Grey Gardens, First Cousin to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, should have written a book about him instead?

Although there are tens of tens - possibly even hundreds of dreadfully feeble biography titles polluting paper across the globe, there must be trillions of others just begging to be born. For example, idiotic publishing types have consistently failed to ask the widow of wrestler/actor/writer/ultimate bald-headed, rough-looking Yorkshireman, Brian Glover, to write a memoir detailing their life together. Imagine a world where "The Bri Who Gloved Me" sits on top of the hardback charts! I could be happy in a world like that.

Other unwritten gems include:

"Jude, Glorious Jude: I am the Law" (autobiography)

"Simply Ned" (a touching tribute to Ned Beatty written by his brother, Warren)

"Has Biehn?" (Michael Biehn details his 24 year decline)

I'll post any other ideas as and when they come to me and I invite you to do the same. And yes, I do realise that nobody reads this blog but I just want to be polite, that's all.

*I should also thank David for a number of other things about this blog including the subject matter, the pictures and, quite possibly, some of the phrases.

Thursday, 4 December 2008


I just caught the most unbelievable sequence of words leaking out of my television set: 

"The plutonium was stolen from a secure nuclear installation outside Croatia."

Really? Christ. Right then. We'll assemble a crack team of specialists and deploy them...everywhere, I suppose. We'll have them kick down the doors of every building on every street on Earth simultaneously. We should give the order to strike at dawn - hopefully these thieves, wherever they are, will be too sleepy to resist.

Luckily for humankind, closer inspection revealed it to be a line from Tsui Hark's DOUBLE TEAM and not, as I had initially feared, BBC news 24.

Further research tossed up an interesting piece of intel, I believe it's called: every single nuclear installation in the world is outside Croatia. 

The stupid line was right!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

How to solve a misery

I've never had a blog before. I don't really know what to do with it. I think I'll just copy the format of other blogs I like until I get some ideas of my own.

I feel ill. I want to watch a film in bed. I want to watch something with Eugene Pallette in it, principally because i suspect the profound rumblings of his voice might loosen whatever it is that's making my lungs rattle. If I am very lucky, he might even agitate my bodily atoms, causing them to leap around, rub against one another and generate valuable frictive* heat. He will be a warming and welcome panacean presence. 

And what a presence! Good grief, the man's built like a planet. Maybe it's this which makes him such a reassuring ingredient in comedies. His colossality* gives the other characters licence to zoom around in all kinds of screwy orbits - the gravitational tug of his mighty bulk prevents them from spinning off the edge of the screen. He's buried in Kansas and I'm amazed that more of America hasn't been sort of sucked into that state the same way a swimming pool cover disappears when you throw a breezeblock into the middle of it.

God, I feel awful though. I'm going to lie down in the dark. I'll have to watch the film later.

*not real words