Skip to main content

In the old days, childbirth was a much simpler affair.

Star Cops
7. A Double Life

Thus far, Star Copshas maintained a degree of consistency. Nothing that gets into five star territory, but nothing below average either. That changes with A Double Life (if titles are any indication of the show’s quality, this one certainly sucks), a feeble story taking in cloning, doppelgangers and another opportunity for the series’ unswerving appetite for stereotyping any given nationality or race; this time it tries its hand at Arab culture.


John Collee scripts again (and the next too), but Christopher Baker is back in the director’s chair and one’s instantly aware of the dissipation of atmosphere (and turning up of lights). There are a few neat little ideas thrown into a plot concerning the kidnapping of the embryos of rich Arab woman Chamsya Assadi (Nitza Shaul), such as the doubling of one’s chances of conception on the Moon. There’s also comment on the deluge of individuals ending up in space looking for a living, “Like trying to keep tabs on a gold rush”. There are also chromosomal fingerprint tests. Less impressively, people make coffee in the same old way and relax in makeshift Moonbase chill out rooms with bargain basement chairs.


Madam Assadi who has “got to be the world’s most unpopular woman” and is related to a royal family, proceeds to take the law into her own hands and, in typical Star Cops fashion, is given to phrases such as “There is a saying in my country…” Shaul isn’t really very good, unfortunately; hers is one of those performances that’s so uncertain you half believe she might be intended as the perpetrator from the first scene. Which I guess provides a level of unintentional intrigue that isn’t really there.


Devis: Perhaps he had a twin.

It’s Devis’ oafish to-the-point-ness that gives Nathan his insight into the culprit behind the abduction. It isn’t concert pianist James Bannerman (Brian Gwaspari), despite his matching DNA; it’s his double Albi. Albi gets the best line in a bad bunch (“They’ve sent me a big fat hostage”, describing Devis), but his motives and behaviour are banal (he wants revenge for Assadi’s murder of daddy Cyrus Tiel).


Devis is typically tactless throughout, although one begins to wish he would show similar abandon in eviscerating of the script. “She probably flushed the bloody things down the loo” he concludes after the embryo abduction has taken place. He manages to insult Anna Shoun, although given Sayo Inaba’s performance that’s at least understandable (“Well, I told her she was too fragile for this sort of work”). Anna is given some quite good comebacks to slobbish Devis (“If you were more sophisticated, I might share your sense of humour”) but they mostly fall flat due to the delivery.


Shoun: My problem is a spiritual one. As a Buddhist I’m committed to the preservation of life.

Anna’s disinclination to kill is displayed as something odd, so obviously she needs to come around and be required to kill someone for the climax. Which she duly does. Just as it looks like there might be serious emotional and psychological fallout from this, Devis gets her to laugh. See? Killing people isn’t that bad after all!


Elsewhere, Krivenko shows himself to be a meddling arse, keeping Assadi informed of events so as to keep her sweet on Moonbase funding, which leads to Bannerman being kidnapped. Eric Ray Evans gets to flag up his limited range again, while Kenzy actually calls someone a “great galah”.


Spring: In the old days, childbirth was a much simpler affair.


This is dull, uninspired stuff. It’s a pretty bog standard plotline that, aside from the clone conceit, could have been used in any detective show thriving on the unlikely (a Jonathan Creek, for example). As such it’s no one’s finest hour, although Box has a mildly amusing sequence where he’s taking the piss out of Nathan. Who only merits comment for another pointer to his Morse-like qualities; he’s clearly really enjoying the opera compilation David gives him. Oh, and for the very silly visual gag in the last scene where Kenzy sees a double of Nathan on the shuttle.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

You're not only wrong. You're wrong at the top of your voice.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
I’ve seen comments suggesting that John Sturges’ thriller hasn’t aged well, which I find rather mystifying. Sure, some of the characterisations border on the cardboard, but the director imbues the story with a taut, economical backbone. 

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You must find the keys for me!

Doctor Who The Keys of Marinus
Most of the criticisms levelled at The Keys of Marinus over the past 50 years have been fair play, and yet it’s a story I return to as one of the more effortlessly watchable of the Hartnell era. Consequently, the one complaint I can’t really countenance is that it’s boring. While many a foray during this fledgling period drags its heels, even ones of undeniable quality in other areas, Marinus’ shifting soils and weekly adventures-in-miniature sustain interest, however inelegant the actual construction of those narratives may be. The quest premise also makes it a winner; it’s a format I have little resistance to, even when manifested, as here, in an often overtly budget-stricken manner.

Doctor Who has dabbled with the search structure elsewhere, most notably across The Key to Time season, and ultimately Marinus’ mission is even more of a MacGuffin than in that sextology, a means to string together what would otherwise be vignettes to little overall coherence…

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

Django Unchained (2012)
(MINOR SPOILERS) Since the painful misstep of Grindhouse/Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino has regained the higher ground like never before. Pulp Fiction, his previous commercial and critical peak, has been at very least equalled by the back-to-back hits of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. Having been underwhelmed by his post Pulp Fiction efforts (albeit, I admired his technical advances as a director in Kill Bill), I was pleasantly surprised by Inglourious Basterds. It was no work of genius (so not Pulp Fiction) by any means, but there was a gleeful irreverence in its treatment of history and even to the nominal heroic status of its titular protagonists. Tonally, it was a good fit for the director’s “cool” aesthetic. As a purveyor of postmodern pastiche, where the surface level is the subtext, in some ways he was operating at his zenith. Django Unchained is a retreat from that position, the director caught in the tug between his all-important aesthetic pr…

Have you betrayed us? Have you betrayed me?!

Blake's 7 4.13: Blake

The best you can hope for the end of a series is that it leaves you wanting more. Blake certainly does that, so much so that I lapped up Tony Attwood’s Afterlife when it came out. I recall his speculation over who survived and who didn’t in his Programme Guide (curious that he thought Tarrant was unlikely to make it and then had him turn up in his continuation). Blakefollows the template of previous season finales, piling incident upon incident until it reaches a crescendo.

There are times when I miss the darkness. It is hard to live always in the light.

Blake's 7 4.12: Warlord

The penultimate episode, and Chris Boucher seems to have suddenly remembered that the original premise for the series was a crew of rebels fighting against a totalitarian regime. The detour from this, or at least the haphazard servicing of it, during seasons Three and Four has brought many of my favourite moments in the series. So it comes as a bit of a jolt to suddenly find Avon making Blake-like advances towards the leaders of planets to unite in opposition against the Federation. 

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989)
(SPOILERS) There’s Jaws, there’s Star Wars, and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy, to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “mainly boring”.

Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the system when Burton did it (even…

So you made contact with the French operative?

Atomic Blonde (2017)
(SPOILERS) Well, I can certainly see why Focus Features opted to change the title from The Coldest City (the name of the graphic novel from which this is adapted). The Coldest City evokes a nourish, dour, subdued tone, a movie of slow-burn intrigue in the vein of John Le Carré. Atomic Blonde, to paraphrase its introductory text, is not that movie. As such, there’s something of a mismatch here, of the kind of Cold War tale it has its roots in and the furious, pop-soaked action spectacle director David Leitch is intent on turning it into. In the main, his choices succeed, but the result isn’t quite the clean getaway of his earlier (co-directed) John Wick.

I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my "back pain", Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine... Well, because it's awesome.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Along with Pain & Gain and The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street might be viewed as the completion of a loose 2013 trilogy on the subject of success and excess; the American Dream gone awry. It’s the superior picture to its fellows, by turns enthralling, absurd, outrageous and hilarious. This is the fieriest, most deliriously vibrant picture from the director since the millennium turned. Nevertheless, stood in the company of Goodfellas, the Martin Scorsese film from which The Wolf of Wall Street consciously takes many of its cues, it is found wanting.

I was vaguely familiar with the title, not because I knew much about Jordan Belfort but because the script had been in development for such a long time (Ridley Scott was attached at one time). So part of the pleasure of the film is discovering how widely the story diverges from the Wall Street template. “The Wolf of Wall Street” suggests one who towers over the city like a behemoth, rather than a guy …

Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.