rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

3-10-2003 (archived)

This week's second film review is “The Italian Job”, which is not really a remake. All it really borrows is a character name or two, a couple of ideas (engineering a traffic jam, running away in red, white and blue minis), and a name.

Let me start by admitting that I am no great fan of the original; for me, it falls into that enormous category of mysteriously overrated products of sixties England, and I am no Caine worshipper. Unlike the original film, this has a plot, and acting, and an gorgeous love interest (Charlise Theron), and even a certain amount of emotional depth. Whether you liked the first Italian Job or not, take this as a new film drawing on a couple of its ideas, and enjoy it for what it is - by no means perfect, but smart, good-looking, briskly-plotted, exciting and very very funny.

6-10-2003 (archived)

Sunday week ago we had one of our UKMG “pissups”, and I've finally gotten around to writing about it. So, in the unlikely event that you're interested and don't read the newsgroup, here it is.

Trev and I met up at my place pre-pu and responded to a distress call from The Vinny, informing us that nowhere was open. It being only 11:30, we were unsurprised. He further informed us that Tribeca's cleanup crew had informed him that they weren't opening until 1pm, so we went for a coffee at the station Starbucks.

Upon arriving at Tribeca at 12:50 or so, we were surprised to find that it was open and filled with UKMGers eating breakfast (including but probably not limited to Bluescore and friend, Ian Myatt, Chappers; I wasn't taking notes). Vin, Trev and I tucked in also, and shortly we were joined by James. Fod texted from Cognac, having just toured the Remy Martin factory. He will be suitably punished later.

Moving on to the Salisbury, we were joined by Icarusi with what at first we took for a coffin, but turned out to be some sort of huge eastern-sounding harp-like beast (details, Dave?). Much entertainment followed from his rendition of the likes of Smoke on the Water in a Japanese idiom. Other guitars present included Bluescore's pawn-shop Flying V, Ian's beautiful JPM-P3, something (else) of Icarusi's which I forget the name of. Much hilarity ensued. I seemed to be the only one drinking, which is 180 degrees from the usual situation ;).

Later some (me, Trev, Vinny, James, Chappers) of us went for dinner at my favourite Chinatown establishment. It was splendid. Vinny and I resolved that next time we go, we'll have the "fish lips and duck webs casserole", and we've decided that we should go for foods of different ethnic origins on each forcoming PU, rather than sticking to Rusholme's finest (Japanese and Thai are probably next up). There was much happy conversation, including one sequence on public vomiting which caused great hilarity, and for several of us considerable physical pain; I almost blacked out from lack of oxygen to the brain at one point.

That is, I think, all. Amendments and expansions solicited.

8-10-2003 (archived)

This week's film review is “Bright Young Things”, Stephen Fry's film directorial debut, and an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's “Vile Bodies” (which, confession time, I have not read).

I have a peculiar susceptibility to all things things thirties, and to all things Fry, and this is no exception. It has style and dash. It has almost every British actor (including the most British of all, Richard E Grant, who is in fact from Swaziland) of any significance, many in small but delicious roles. It is very funny and occasionally very moving (though I seem to be easily moved at the moment, so discount as appropriate). It admittedly has moments of rather annoying camera-work, particularly in some nightclub scenes. Still, as first movies go, it's far more enjoyable than we have any right to expect, even given Fry's infuriating record of being good at everything.

9-10-2003 (archived)

the results might have important implications for our understanding of how human ejaculation is brought about

You know, if you're old enough to be doing this kind of study and you don't know how ejaculation is brought about, you may need to reconsider your life.

Anyway, a little while ago I participated in a band-ranking meme and promised to link to those who played too. Within 12 hours I had responses, first from Mark McGuigan; I hadn't even realised that his blog was up and running yet. Next in was Diotoir, followed a little later by Clive and Adrian. Throw the stone, see the ripples spread.

13-10-2003 (archived)

<krash> [cnn.com link]
<mud> what a shower of arse nuggets the record companies are
<mud> and if cd copy protection can be circumvented by such a simple means then maybe somebody should be sacked
<rick> ah, but that's what the DMCA is *for*...
<mud> a shower of cunts - nonetheless
<rick> “we want to do something that's basically impossible (copy protection), and also we're *really fucking stupid and incompetent*, so let's just make it illegal to even talk about how laughably shit our measures are!”
<rick> if the DMCA applied to burglary, it would be illegal to mention that your neighbour has no locks on his doors and his home security relies on nobody ever trying the handle.
<rick> furthermore, it would be illegal to point out that a huge multinational locksmiths was not, in fact, installing locks, but merely painting on fake keyholes.
<krash> :D
<rick> fuckers.

I don't think I can top my impromptu rant for accuracy or pith, so it's going up as is. These “people” need killing like the revolting suckpigs they are.

(Note for the terminally stupid: I'm not for a moment suggesting that you should actually kill these things, attractive though the idea is. It would be illegal. Like, say, trying to take away our fair use rights.)

15-10-2003 (archived)

Today I met Neal Stephenson at a reading and signing at Waterstone's. He was witty, polite, clearly used to answering fanboy questions, longhaired, bearded and wearing a suit (cue stupid/comic question about Randy's Cryptonomicon division of the tech world into “beards” and “suits” from Y.T.). Apparently the Baroque Cycle, of which Quicksilver, the book I bought and had signed today, is the first volume is only about four weeks of work from completion, and we should expect the next couple of volumes within a year or so. Which would be nice, indeed, especially if they're anything like as good as his previous work. I'm also hoping for some more hacker journalism at some point, which he didn't rule out.

Rather to my surprise, I managed to avoid stuttering, drooling on myself, or otherwise embarrassing my friends in the Glorious Presence of perhaps my favourite writer. There may be hope for me yet.

17-10-2003 (archived)

This week's first film review is “Cabin Fever”, in which the something nasty in the woods is very, very small.

Some teens go out to a rented cabin in the woods. There they are stalked not by an incarnation of evil in a mask or a silly hat, but by an infection, inspired by necrotizing fasciitis, the infamous “flesh-eating bacteria” that apparently rampaged through Britain's hospitals a few years ago.

Given that touch of originality, this is basically a very self-aware, funny and fun low-budget horror flick, a slasher film without the slash. There's tension, a gradual descent into chaos, and lots of blood and lots of breasts (newcomer Cerina Vincent being worthy of particular note, and I think she might actually be able to act. Knowing his audience, the director wisely keeps the bacteria away from the curves in question). The leg-shaving scene is a small but delicious slice of genius.

This isn't art. It's not culture. It is extremely funny, enough so to have a packed late-night showing in stitches, and respectful of the conventions. If you like this sort of thing, you'll like it as much as we did, which is very much indeed.

20-10-2003 (archived)

This week's first (mini) film review is “Bad Boys 2”. Like the first one, it is loud, funny, contains a lot of swearing and shit gets blown up. Unlike the first one, it hasn't got much of a plot, or Téa Leoni, and it's far too long. It does have quite a lot of breasts, though.

This is the Toast Leaners' club. It is magnificent. My own views on toast are variable, and rendered less than important by low-carbing anyway; sometimes I liked it with the butter dripping, other times buttered cold, crisp and wonderful.

And now I'm hungry.

22-10-2003 (archived)

This week's second film review is “Kill Bill (Vol 1)”, also billed as “the fourth film by Quentin Tarantino”. This not-over-long film (about ten minutes under two hours) is actually the first half of a very long film, and judging from this part he could have cut the whole to three hours and released it that way; there's easily twenty minutes to be salvaged from the rather stately proceedings.

There's an awful lot to recommend this. It is, of course, tremendously stylish. It's very funny. It's breathtakingly, cartoonishly violent, with spectacularly spraying blood and flopping limbs. There's far more blood, gore and death here than in his earlier films, but it's also far less real and shocking; and intentionally so. It pays obviously heart-felt, respectful homage to cool films and programmes of many genres; most obviously martial arts and samurai movies, but also the likes of Charlie's Angels (the TV show), and probably many references I'm missing completely. The fight scenes are beautifully choreographed, though the huge climactic battle scene could probably have benefited from being a little smaller. There's also a gorgeous anime section; while it could have been cut without damaging the plot, there's no doubt it adds to the style and atmosphere. Whenever the Bride's name is spoken, it's bleeped out; simple, but cool. There is a Japanese all-girl rock trio. It has chapter titles. There are samurai swords as airline carry-on luggage.

Bad things: often the things he's paying homage to are, like so much nostalgia, things that we no longer do because we don't have to any more. The dialogue is authentically dreadful; yes, I know it's supposed to be, but with QT in charge it's a horrible waste of one of the most talented dialoguists in the history of the movies. There's a deeply annoying fade to black and white during the main fight scene; surely censors don't make us do this any more? It's probably twenty minutes too long; at least at this viewing, the slowness of the pace whenever we're away from the combat doesn't achieve cool, just mild impatience. The superbly cool piece of music that's all over the trailer is probably plays longer there than in the film proper.

Still, I enjoyed it rather a lot. It's undeniably compelling; like all his movies, it's quite impossible to look away. It's not quite as stellar as Tarantino's earlier work, but it's very watchable and will be very rewatchable. I'm likely to see it again at least once in the near future, and we won't really be able to pass any judgement on it until part 2 appears. Still, the interim verdict is that this would be a very good martial arts/revenge/homage film by almost anybody else's standards. This man, having made the trailer of the year, should be expected to deliver a film more than matching that promise, and he hasn't. Quite.

24-10-2003 (archived)

On Saturday I realised that the time had come.

And wild nose hairs were hardly a slight thing. They had never troubled him until his early thirties, when his nostrils had begun to sprout a new type of hair with the consistency of baling wire. Whenever one of them got long enough to reach the other side of the nostril, paralysing discomfort resulted. The only solution was to push a rapidly spinning motorised knife up his nose.

The first time Clyde had done this, he'd considered it the bravest act he had ever performed. Now it had become almost routine but still gave him a mild thrill of danger. It always made him feel much better. But the freshly cut hairs were square and sharp on the end and would only send him into a worse fit in a few weeks when they got long enough. In that sense the nose-hair trimmer was as addictive as cocaine. (“Stephen Bury”'s Cobweb, Ch 41.)

I bought many things on Saturday; silver earrings, hairspray (I'm feeling experimental), and a “hygienic clipper”. There's only so long that one can continue to regard plucking as a solution. Still, I fear that this marks some sort of slightly disturbing step on the road to accepting that I am no longer young.