Archive for Stephen Merchant

Undercaffeinated blog post

Posted in Comics, FILM, Interactive, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2021 by dcairns

Hope I wake up before I finish writing this.

Finished reading Making a Film: The Story of Secret People, which is adorable. More on that soon.

More charity shop haulage: I bought LOGAN on Blu-ray for a pound. It’s a near-miss for me. I just think the mission of trying to make a superhero movie that’s super-serious is a bit silly. I could see that the same team’s THE WOLVERINE was trying to get away from costumed CGI asskicking and do noir stuff, but it all ended with a big robot fight, they hadn’t been allowed to really go for it. LOGAN goes for it, but hits a wall somewhere.

(I watched the b&w version, LOGAN NOIR, figuring that since director James Mangold went to the trouble of making it, it’d be the version to see, I have the colour version playing now for comparison. Very strange seeing it in colour. Like losing a friend.)

The part of the film that really works is all the Patrick Stewart stuff — in this film’s version of the future, Professor Xavier, beloved mentor of the X-Men, has dementia. This is so well written (Scott Frank is co-writer with Mangold and Michael Green) and played, and is such a great idea… I can’t think of any example of a senile superhero even in comics, and Prof. X. is the perfect character to apply this to, since his powers are mental. What happens when he has one of his seizures is really creepy and wild.

Unexpected added value from Stephen Merchant and Richard E. Grant, two more Brits stepping outside their usual arch mode and really committing to taking the thing seriously.

Hugh Jackman as the title character has always been good in this role, and certainly wants to be great in this. And all his stuff with Patrick Stewart is very strong. The fact that the story is just a chase and some fights doesn’t seem to do any harm here.

It’s the relationship that has to take over from the Logan/Xavier one, with which the intended audience has a longstanding familiarity, that suffers from having to make room for the punchy-stabby bits. Dafne Keen is properly uncanny as the young mutant who is in some way Logan’s daughter. Nothing lacking in the performance, which is mainly physical. The key to my dissatisfaction probably is highlighted by a moment when Keen and Stewart watch SHANE together. It’s nearly always a mistake to smuggle a classic film quotation into a not-yet-classic-and-maybe-never-will-be movie.

SHANE is about a man and a child, two rival father figures who are on the same side but have different styles. And it’s about violence, its terribleness and necessity — it being a western, the necessity for violent action is only lightly questioned, but nevertheless the film attains some depth. LOGAN certainly CONTAINS a lot of violence — an INSANE amount of violence — and everybody does it and there really isn’t any interrogation of it, and most of it has no consequences. There’s an attempt to show us that murderizing store clerks is bad, but the lesson is abandoned to make more room for sticking knuckle-knives through nameless dismayed persons’ heads. Knasty.

The holding back of sentiment is commendable, but at some point the emotion should break through and also we need to feel the pain of a dying protagonist — it’s like THE AGONY AND ECSTASY again, it fails on the agony. Jackman limps but still feels invulnerable.

Also I’d watched THE GUNFIGHTER where the whole film is “Hurry up and get out of town Gregory Peck.” This one is a long chase where the character TWICE stop running and casually say “We’ll move on first thing in the morning.” NO. That’s not going to work, is it?

Beautiful moment where the little heroine, a Kaspar Hauser with the power to punch through walls, encounters a vision of the family she’s never had —

I tried plugging my Blu-ray player into my laptop but nothing happened, so here are some photos taken off my TV on a bright day. Yes, I suck. And here I am critiquing James Mangold, who on this evidence should kill it with the new INDIANA JONES (my favourite of his is DAY AND KNIGHT [although there are lots I haven’t seen] so I think he can get the tone).

We also watched JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE which more fun than a Donkey Kong barrel full of CGI monkeys. Clever, character-based jokes, a beautiful ensemble cast — TWO ensembles, in fact — and although the thing’s a CGI-fest (something LOGAN, to its credit, never feels like), which meant I wasn’t particularly interested in any of the action, it as the alibi that it’s all happening inside a game. There’s probably a visual look out there which would have made interesting use of CG stylisation, the way TRON did, but neither the original JUMANJI with its ambulatory taxidermy animals, not this one, has found it. But the Rock and Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan and Jack Black are lovely, and although I find I strangely still have no interest in other Jake Kasdan films such as BAD TEACHER and SEX TAPE, I would happily watch the sequel to the reboot of film of the book about the game.

Things I’m Not Writing About

Posted in Comics, FILM, Politics, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2010 by dcairns

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.