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Showing posts from January, 2013

Cally. Help us, Cally. Help Auron.

Blake's 7 3.7: Children of Auron Roger Parkes goes a considerable way towards redeeming himself for the slop that was Voice from the Past  with his second script for the series, and newcomer Andrew Morgan shows promise as a director that never really fulfilled itself in his work on Doctor Who (but was evident in Knights of God , the 1987 TV series featuring Gareth Thomas).

I am going to be the biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler.

Bruno (2009) I wasn’t the biggest fan of Borat , so I’d been in no hurry to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s “different character, same formula” follow-up. Part of the problem is that Cohen’s gay Austrian fashionista is only designed to shock, which quickly grows tiresome and repetitive. This may have been part of the Borat act too, but it was only a part. The character of the Kazakh TV reporter used a benign ignorance to expose prejudice and bigotry, whereas Bruno’s aggressive flamboyance immediately dictates how a scene will develop. All Cohen can then do is confront obvious targets with a sledgehammer. The cruder he gets, the less he makes his subjects look foolish and the more he seems like a bit of a dick for thinking this was other than a lazy exercise.  Occasionally character and scenario do snap together to revealing, humourous and disturbing results; Bruno questioning parents on what they are willing to let their children do for a role in his African child

You have a reputation for straightforward villainy that’s second to none.

Blake's 7 3.6: City at the Edge of the World After three episodes delivering variations on “It’s so bad, it’s good”, Season Three finally pays off on the promise of the first couple of stories. This is Chris Boucher’s first of the run, and like any good script editor he focuses on areas that other writers would be unlikely to consider. The “area” in this episode is the much misused character of Vila, and you have to wonder if he hadn’t made a mental note that there’d been far too much “Vila the idiot” creeping in. Certainly, this redresses the balance. Perhaps Keating had been whispering for a while that he’d like a Vila-centric episode too (edit: apparently Keating had suggested this to Boucher).

You were sent to Auschwitz because you stole a ham?

Sophie’s Choice (1982) Alan J Pakula’s Holocaust drama presumes its own importance but doesn’t pause to consider the almost wholly turgid result. Yes, the central scene (which provides the title) is powerful. But it is unable to justify the entire film; indeed, there is a strong disconnect between the indulgent thespian antics of the US sections and the flashbacks to Poland. It could be that William Styron’s novel explores its themes more successfully but this adaptation consistently flies its colours as a literary construct, employing several layers of unnecessary artifice when the premise is potent enough. There’s the decision to make Sophie (Meryl Streep) Polish Catholic (apparently because Styron wished to emphasise that the actions of the Nazis were not limited to the Jewish people). We then learn that her law professor father was aggressively anti-Semitic, and then that Sophie was sent to Auschwitz for stealing a ham. Sophie’s lover Nathan (Kevin Kline) is

Secret AGENT? On WHOSE side?

Live and Let Die (1973) In theory, Live and Let Die put the Bond producers right back where they had been at the start of the previous two films; struggling to stabilise the series with a regular 007. Connery nixed any further wooing, and consequently numerous actors were mooted, both British and American. The role finally came back to Roger Moore, who had been considered both at the time of Dr. No and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service . Indeed, Moore was 45 when he made LALD ; four years older than Connery was in Diamonds are Forever (to be fair, Moore was looking contrastingly young and fresh-faced; he’d only stretch credulity towards end of his run, particularly as a 57 year-old secret agent). It was only the cancellation of TV series The Persuaders that enabled Moore to play Bond, however. LALD is a curious Bond film. In some respects it displays an entirely predictable template of chases, beddings and globetrotting. In others, it shows a brazen will

You fight well. But you're still a woman.

Blake's 7 3.5: Harvest of Kairos There’s something so awesomely shit about Harvest of Kairos , I have to wonder how much of it is intentional and how much is Ben Steed just being a straight-up terrible writer. Whether it’s Jarvik – hands on hips - extolling the virtues of manliness, the Liberator crew being made fools of and getting boarded (again), Tarrant flying a lunar landing module or Servalan acting like a completed idiot (the odd line aside) the script is as holey as a Swiss cheese. And that’s even without the terrifying insects menacing Dayna. But... In its favour Avon spends a whole episode fascinated by a rock, completely disinterested in Tarrant’s bout of piracy. Perhaps Chris Boucher was suffering from Space Madness when he commissioned this?