Things I’m Not Writing About

As CORNELL WOOLRICH WEEK comes upon us, I have to exclude certain things from Shadowplay. Here they are ~

KICK ASS is and does as its title suggests. Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s take on Martin Millar’s comic humanizes and deepens the basic joke. While there’s plenty of sick humour, Hit Girl may swear but she doesn’t kill unarmed women or snort coke like she does in the comic. Nic Cage is back to being GOOD for this one, speaking in a variety of odd voices, depending on whether he’s being a daddy, being Big Daddy the costumed crime fighter, or being “normal”. And it has the McLovin guy in it, being McLovin in a superhero costume.

The new Dr Who actually lives up to potential, capitalizing on the good points of Russell T Davies’ reboot, while adding for the first time a genuine eccentric as Doctor and a genuine actress as assistant (exception: Catherine Tate) and of course we’re enjoying the added Scottishness, courtesy of script editor Stephen Merchant Moffat and co-star Karen Gillan. Unlike in the RTD version, the emotion here is actually part of the story and doesn’t feel trumped-up, and sad scenes are achieved without having everybody cry.

We discovered that the music they play you when you’re on hold on NHS24, the health helpline, is the same light classical selection Edward G Robinson gets euthanized to in SOYLENT GREEN. It’s Sarah Palin’s “death panel” fantasy come true! Pottit heid is made of people!

Julian Doyle (editor of BRAZIL) and Bruce Dickinson (rock star) have made a film, CHEMICAL WEDDING. It’s a horror-sci-fi stew about Aleister Crowley getting reincarnated as Simon Callow. It’s either very very bad, or very very good in a LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM way, while being much much worse than LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM. Simon gets to be bald, wear a purple George Melly suit and bugger people. When in doubt, he quotes Shakespeare, a good policy.

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13 Responses to “Things I’m Not Writing About”

  1. Matthew McConkey Says:

    It probably doesn’t really need pointing out, but Nic Cage’s main odd voice is an Adam West impression.

  2. Ah yes, the odd phrasing and misplaced pauses. Delightful!

  3. John Cheever once wrote a book entitled Some People Places and Things That Will Not Appear in My Next Novel

  4. Apologies. I know this isn’t Doctorwhoplay but SIR! Take BACK your jibe about the former assistants! Billie Piper played that chav of hers with dignity and heart and pretty single-handedly (it turns out) held the first two series together.

    Is Matt Smith actually eccentric? He looks GREAT (especially in those rare seconds when he’s allowed to keep still – no physical tick he can come up with has managed to match those frames for strangeness) but whenever he speaks it all goes a bit Theatre-In-Education-absent-minded-superhero (which is why he and the child Amy Pond actually made such a pleasing match. I would have loved more of that.)

    Oh also: That show had a script editor? Really?! Fair dos, this series’ worth of unrelated great ideas aren’t going to meaninglessly elide THEMSELVES into a single huh?pisode I suppose – (Oh hang on I’ve just looked it up and you mean Stephen MOFFAT. Who also wrote it. And has been extraordinary under RTD’s editorship. Okay maybe there’s your problem. My problem rather.) Okay, sorry, films…

  5. Whoops. Stephen Merchant is, of course, Ricky Gervaise’s gangling chum.

    My frustration with Dr Who (rooted in the fact that I’m not writing for it, of course), is that I would hear that RTD “had to” rewrite all the scripts by all the other writers, except Moffat, because they just weren’t any good. Now, pretty much every writer in TV wants to write for this show, as well as plenty in comics and films and literature, so I can’t figure out quite why it’s so hard to get good ones. One problem might be that they’re all recruited from other TV shows, which worked against the odds with Moffat, but doesn’t strike me as the best way to find people suited to this rather peculiar show and its unique demands.

    But my desire to write for the show has decreased a little, now that it’s so GOOD. That’s two episodes in a row where I was unable to think “I could do better than THAT.”

    Is Smith an eccentric? Reading his interviews, I thought so. There aren’t enough wide shots to show how odd his walk is, but you’re right that he triumphs in still shots.

    It’d be great if they could bring back little Amelia, I liked her too.

    Billie Piper was OK, I guess, I guess I could blame the writing for making her get teary every episode, and unimaginative TV direction for all the talkie scenes where they just stand there emoting at each other. Thought the direction on the first episode this season particularly nice…

  6. Love the Cheever title!

  7. Paul Murphy Says:

    Just watched the first episode of the newest Who. Words cannot describe how much I love Amy Pond, or Amy Pond’s fetish policewoman getup. Matt Smith is a tad frenetic, but is a more convincing supergenius than the overmatched David Tennant. But I can’t believe DC is praising the writing. Not only did they violate rule 1 of contemporary drama–do not have key scenes that lay tense music over shots of someone typing at a computer–but they made smartphones and internet viruses drive the plot’s resolution.

    How many Who stories in this era have featured Alien beings able to effortlessly assume the forms of respected english character actors? Too many.

    One longs for the days when SF writers did not stop every minute to throw in jokes, lest we think they take this nonsense seriously. For God’s sake, the world is about to be incinerated. Can we treat the situation with a bit more gravitas?

    Also, the CGI does make you long for the days of Sontarans with visible zippers running down the back. Or am I simply longing for Leela?

    But I’ll keep tuning in, if only to see the day when our only chance to stop the Cybermen involves Amy Pond dressing up in an Emma Peel jumpsuit.

  8. David Tennant is gifted, but always seemed to be working up a sweat to convince us of his eccentricity and the seriousness of the situation. Smith is a BIT more relaxed.

    The music’s been a bugbear of mine since it started.

    Basically agree re computers and viruses, although there was some mileage in having the Dr resolve things without TARDIS or screwdriver. Which, according to RTD, can do ANYTHING.

  9. The very thought of this DC-scripted Who episode is now driving me as spare as the non-existence of a Welles’ directed Batman film, so THANKS for that.
    As for RTD’s rewriting… maybe an early sign that he was just too much in love with it? Although to be fair, in those first two series the show really did work as a character piece (for me, anyway) and character pieces are traditionally pretty authored affairs. I was however surprised and delighted to learn that an episode about Pompeii – the first really strong episode to have appeared in over a series – was the work of a total newcomer, so it doesn’t appear to have been a completely closed shop.

    Oh yeah, and if England was on the back of the last space whale in existence, what happened to Scotland? Silly, silly devolutionists.

  10. Maybe Scotland got out ahead using North Sea oil to fuel a more conventional craft?

    The rewritten writers on Who all insisted they’re originals were better, but they may have been wrong, I guess. When RTD handed over the reins he said “And here’s why I’m quitting,” handing a big pile of unedited scripts to Moffat. Apparently it’s very common for writers to write stuff that can’t be shot, as in the classic “There is a smell of burning flesh” (which I actually encountered in an unproduced Richard Stanley feature script). When this refers to plot points, major rewriting is involved. But if they hired good sf or comics writers this kind of problem would be worth struggling with, because of all the neat ideas you’d get.

    So far, Moffat scores with me on the quality of his own writing. I’m hoping the quality of the other writers’ stuff will improve too.

    Oh, one Who writer whose work SHOULDN’T have needed rewriting: Gareth Roberts, who did the best (ie only good) episode of randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

    If anybody can put me in touch with the Who people, I’m happy to pitch…

  11. Paul Murphy Says:

    Agree with DC about the music, it’s too much muchness. Like all other thinking people I stand in awe of the original sound FX and electronic music of the old BBC Radiophonic workshop, tho I seem to recall that much of the interior music of the earlier (pre RTD) shows was fairly innocuous library cues. Am I wrong? But certainly that was less obtrusive than the current kitchen sink-plus-a-bag of-chips of the more recent series.

    DC, if you were writing a Who, would you deprive the hero of his screwdriver?

  12. Maybe I’d just posit the Dr somewhere a sonic screwdriver would be useless… I’d also like to see definite limits set on what he can do with the thing.

    There were some Pertwee-era episodes, and maybe early Bakers, with goofy electronic burblings as score. That was nice, and they didn’t use too much of it. The main purpose of the present music seems to be to convince us that everything is ENORMOUS.

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