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Monthly Archives: April 2008

Pulling (S1E1)

I think that I probably shouldn’t, but I do rather enjoy Pulling. It’s three women past their youth but not yet at middle age coming to terms with the fact that they’re probably not going to change, that they’re stuck with what they’ve got.

The main character is Donna, a somewhat unpleasant passive-aggressive person, with the occasional blast of aggressive-aggressive for good measure. Here we are in the first episode. Donna’s about to get married to her boyfriend Karl when she starts thinking about all the things she wanted to do but didn’t, all the things she wanted to be, but couldn’t. So she dumps Karl. Karl is upset. Karl throws up.

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The Wire (S1E11)

Not much to say except IIRC this is McNulty seasoning a hospital trashcan after Kima’s shooting in the first series of The Wire.

(And seeing as I’m working through all of Homicide: Life On The Street at the moment, I think I’d definitely give The Wire the points decision over its Bawlmore crime antecedent – the impeccable first two series aside, H:LOTS definitely showed too many signs of sharkjumpage past the third season mark.)

Southland TalesSo, Richard Donnie Darko Kelly. One-horse trick. The evidence? Firstly I endured the Kelly-scribed Domino, which could have been a fun, exciting film, but ended up a bleached out, bloated beached whale of a Smokin’ Aces rip-off. I mean, posh rich English girl-turned-LA bounty hunter and junkie should be a no-brainer hit, right? Um, well, no. Having Keira Knightley shoot guns, smoke cigarettes and wear delicately applied facial grime is not exactly in-depth characterisation, but we can let that slide, because an armed, nicotine-stained angel with a dirty face gives good widescreen. Stealing the out-of-their-depth soap actor subplot from Go is forgivable, because it is at least done with vim. Wasting Christopher Walken in an over-edited bit-part, that’s no sweat, because it’s Christopher Walken, and you’re used to that, and besides, even Christopher Walken has bills to pay, nobody’s begrudging anybody on that count. No, the problem is when you stitch all these together, along with creditable supporting roles, cameos from the likes of Macy Gray, severed limbs and saddle-faced Micky Rourke, and still manage to make something that is boring. Sure, director Tony Scott has to own up to his share of the blame, but TBH it looks pretty enough, it’s just got no soul, no sense, and no feeling.

And then Southland Tales, Kelly’s cross-media near future/alternate present satire. Except it’s not funny for the most part, its meandering and dull, there’s shonky fx, it’s just redundant frames flashing over light, an idling engine putt-putt-putting its way to the end credits. Energy crisis, war on terror, police state, blah blah blah.

There are some nice bits – Justin Timberlake’s musical number, and the intro, and Jon Lovitz’s homicidal cop, and Dwayne Johnson’s cartoon face and nervous tics – but these do not a whole film make. It’s no Brazil, it’s no Dr Strangelove, it’s not even a Strange Days or a Screamers. It’s a pile of shit. Glossy, fragranced, immaculately presented, but still stinking of anal expulsion.

FFS, even Welcome II The Terrordome has more charm.

But, lest we forget, shit is as shit does. One of the main plotlines in Southland Tales is this war being waged in California between the cops (on behalf of their control-obsessed political overseers) and the Neo-Marxists. In this From Here To Shiternity the police raid a Neo-Marxist safehouse, where they surprise a chap in the crapper with a chestful of lead. He dies with his boots on, but his trousers remain around his ankles. May he wrist in peace.

The Wire (S1E3)So finally I got me some time to work over The Wire.

I’d been vaguely aware of it as some TV cop show that idiot critics spunked endless adjectives over (gritty, hardboiled, dark and the rest), but it wasn’t till Christmas, when drunk on wine (proper corked bottle shit) I found myself the net between Ignatius and History Mike as they volleyed favourite moments from the series over my clueless head, that I figured it might actually be worth watching. Fucksakes, I pinned my colours to the Third Watch mast, and lordy, did the third to sixth series bite me on the arse for my troubles. Never again. But pedigree-wise, The Wire looked far more promising.

For a start, it’s created by David Simon, the crime reporter whose book about a Baltimore police squad inspired the excellent Tom Fontana/Barry Levinson/Paul Attanasio series, Homicide: Life On The Street. Secondly, like Homicide, it’s set in Baltimore, so no over-familiar NYC or LA locales. And thirdly, it’s not strictly speaking a cop show. As the unusually perceptive Wikipedia page for the show points out, it’s about organisational dysfunction and the failure of capitalism to serve the interests of the many. It just so happens that a lot of the plot hangs on crime and detection, and that a lot of the characters weave in and out of the criminal justice system. Many of the police characters are corrupt, incompetent, lazy, hubristic, indifferent; whilst many of the criminals in the show display strength of character, resourcefulness, honour, loyalty, intelligence. That’s not to say that black hats are wholesale swapped for white, just that individual characters must be judged on their actions at any given moment, rather than defined wholly by their role in gameplay. And that makes for a compelling show.

But enough wittering, I have plenty of Wire-related Motion Picture Motions in the bag to serve as excuse for further self-indulgent word-bilge, so let’s cut the chatter and get with the chunder.

Here we have the aftermath of the first time we see standover man Omar Little in action – having scoped out the routine in The Pit, he waits till crew boss D’Angelo goes on a food run before assaulting the stash house to rob him some Barksdale drugs. Shotgun is fired, belly is emptied. Good result.

Cheers Ignatius and History Mike.

Ultraviolet (E4)Never saw Ultraviolet when it first played back in 98 (a quiet stretch in a TVless Totterdown flat), but reupping torrentside I see it’s actually a pretty decent vampire series. Even Jack Davenport is alright, playing a copper who’s dragged into a top secret counter-bloodsucker unit. Other hon menshes go to Idris Elba (latterly known for American stuff like the Brigadier in 28 Weeks Later and Stringer Bell in The Wire), and Susannah House Of Cards Harker. This Life alumnus Joe Ahearne’s script and direction is pretty damn tight too, and Sue Hewitt’s taut little score – swirling, growling and bass-heavy – makes me wonder why she didn’t pick up more gigs on the strength of her work here.

Anyways, here’s Thomas Lockyer (investigative journalist Jacob) stacking the ceramic (and ouch, if that’s not the cheapest toilet seat in the old Index catalogue).