rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

28-5-2005 (archived)

So Ahmet and Dweezil are touring behind Dad's music. Apparently Beller and Travers of Keneally note will be there also. It may even be worth paying 40 per ticket for the UK shows... I shall be in Manchester, out of interest if nothing else.

30-5-2005 (archived)

It's all gone Pete Tong” is a sort of Spinal Tap for the Ibiza scene with a sugary ending tacked on. There's really nothing here but Kaye's ultra-physical comedy, but that's enough to carry it through as an entertaining enough disposable movie.

1-6-2005 (archived)

House of Wax” is classic American horror by numbers, and none the worse for it. This is another of those films that encourages you, should you find yourself in America, to on no account leave the coasts, and if you should find a diversion on the interstate, just throw your car into reverse and back up until you get back to the cities. Paris Hilton isn't as bad as you think (and there are several sight-gag references to That Video), Chad Michael Murray does a good job as the surly eventual hero, and Elisha Cuthbert is thoroughly delectable in the lead, as you'd expect from the woman who was the main reason to keep watching 24. There's loads of blood, gore, torment, flesh peeling off, and all the other necessary adjuncts to slasher-flick fun. No nudity, though.

This seems to be the trend with the modern horror pictures; the old tit-and-stab formula has been modified, in that the former has been clothed while the latter's more explicit than ever. I wondered if this was something to do with certification, but apparently not; this was an R in the US, the only really significant market, anyway, and still a 15 here (even though violence “may not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury”, which I'd really have thought this did quite a bit). Perhaps Dushku has something in her contract about bouncing as much as you like, but never quite uncovered. Even Paris remains clothed throughout, though, which is an unusual condition in which to see her. Still, the film rattles along energetically and does exactly what it ought: empty, pointless, highly enjoyable visceral fun.

Please, horror directors, give us lots more toplessness, and a few more 18s as well so we don't get giggling at the sex scenes. You know how it's supposed to work: pretty little starlets have sex and then get killed for enjoying themselves. It's karma.

4-6-2005 (archived)

This extraordinary article on the people who jump from the Golden Gate Bridge wisely avoids any sort of conclusions. I, personally, would not build a barrier. A safety rail is one thing, and of course we have that; it would be difficult to fall accidentally from the bridge. A barrier is not only bigger and uglier, but a statement of a totally different kind; a railing enables, where a barrier prevents. In the end, if people really want to kill themselves, so be it; it is our right to try to persuade, but theirs to be unpersuaded. (Via Clive.)

6-6-2005 (archived)

The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse” is an entertaining enough film outing for the grotesques of Royston Vasey. Yes, it's wildly self-indulgent and self-referential, with the main actors playing not only their usual characters but themselves, as the action crosses between fictional and real universes in a manner disturbingly reminiscent of Robert Heinlein's comprehensive 1980s plot-loss, although this at least seems free of obvious wish-fulfilment fantasies. It's not particularly coherent, particularly towards the end, but it's frequently laugh-out-loud funny, which is all we really want from this.

9-6-2005 (archived)

It's very clever and apparently very effective, but you have to admit this looks like something out of a Transmet digression. Yes, sir, we're going to cure you with this mixture of HIV and Ebola. Sir? Sir? (Via Matt on-channel.)

12-6-2005 (archived)

Let us admit at once that “Sin City” is not for everyone; it carries an 18 certificate with good reason. It “contains language” and by god it contains violence. Whether you consider the relatively cartoonish rendition of the details, as opposed to (say) Reservoir Dogs's unflinching hyperrealism, lessens or deepens how disturbing we should find it is, of course, up to you. It also contains a great deal of nudity, though the context makes it fairly non-sexual even when it is overtly sexual.

This is one of those films I've heard nothing but praise for from my peers, but a certain amount of truly amusing criticism for from the professionals. Radio 4's Saturday Review, for example, criticised it for being violent, macho and emotionally shallow, which in the context of a noir-comic adaptation is a bit like criticising a boxer by talking about how he tends to hit his opponents rather a lot. Sending that demographic to review this movie is rather like sending people who think opera mostly consists of fat people yodelling to review La Traviata; this sort of idiocy is, of course, one of the main reasons that “serious fiction” ignores and is ignored by the mainstream of our culture, and incidentally is surely a big reason that boys are turned away from reading.

Nobody has disagreed with one thing: Sin City is visually staggering. I've never seen anything like this before, a comic taken to the screen so completely and perfectly as to retain all of the flavour of the original. It'll all black and white, with drawn backgrounds, and occasionally splashes of highlighted colour. The women are disturbingly beautiful, the men exaggerated and gargoylish, even when handsomely so. Rodriguez has, to use his term, “translated” the comic to the screen with astonishing verve, and the magnificent cast have risen to the challenge; Owen is occasionally a little less than perfect, but his minor lapses were the only ones I saw from the atmospheric, brutal City. The dialogue and voiceovers are exaggeratedly, brutally detective-noir, comical as well as emotive, like the plots themselves. Mickey Rourke is unbelievably good as Marv, and Willis brings exactly the right weary, idealistic cynicism to Hartigan. This is a world steeped in machismo - even the women are violent - and in the end they all get the endings they deserve. Miller may be saying that violence can be honourable, but he never suggests it's worthwhile or profitable.

This is a stunning, ground-breaking achievement, the first of its kind. I hope it will not be the last. Rodriguez says he intends to make the rest of Miller's books, and I for one cannot wait. JWZ put it well; his review read, in its entirety, “Oh my god, this may be the most perfect movie ever made.” I can't remember the last time I was as excited about a film as I was about Sin City, and it actually exceeded my expectations. Essential.

13-6-2005 (archived)

By contrast, “Mr and Mrs Smith” is nothing to do with grand, iconoclastic vision, and everything to do with summer blockbusters by the numbers. We were expecting little enough of this movie that we were pleasantly surprised by what we got; it's actually consistently funny, if massively under-subtle, and although there's little more to the appeal than Pitt and Jolie's absurd charisma and undoubted chemistry, what more, really, do you want? Vapid, empty, formulaic, and great fun.

15-6-2005 (archived)

George Orwell's classic article on how to make a nice cup of tea has little with which I would quarrel, though many of his rules are as controversial now as they were then. I would add to his second rule that tea should be made in a pot, because while urns are indeed to big, mugs are too small, more of which later. I personally think a stainless steel teapot gives results at least as good as earthenware. His tea is probably stronger than mine, but that more than anything is a matter of taste.

I am with him on several acutely controversial matters; we are agreed that the water absolutely must be boiling when it hits the tea, and indeed this is why the pot must be warmed, and I also can't tell the difference if water is reboiled. Perhaps the most breached of his important rules, other than perhaps sugar (on which he is of course absolutely right), is on the question of the milk. Creamy milk in tea is an abomination, and for the best results, skimmed milk is ideal; it cuts the tannin without obscuring the flavour. In the matter of milk first, of course, he is quite wrong; yes, it is harder to make mistakes of quantity, but familiarising yourself with your cup is worthwhile for the better flavour of unscalded milk.

Of course putting the milk in a mug, then a teabag, then hot water, is an abomination that need not be discussed further. It can, with certain types of teabag, produce a drinkable fluid, but it is not tea.

Controversially, I have decided that a teabag can be every bit as good as leaf tea, provided you make it properly - one bag in a teapot holding enough for two mugs, of good tea, brewed properly (seven or eight minutes). It will not stew, because you have enough water in with it. Similarly, there is absolutely no need for bone china cups; it seems to me that the advantage of these is that they heat up quickly, but if you warm your mug with boiling water as well as the pot, there is no loss at all. Certainly all of this takes a minute or two extra, but the results would be worth it even if ritual had not its own rewards.

19-6-2005 (archived)

Annoyingly, they don't actually tell you what a pass grade would be, presumably because they don't really know, but still this citizenship test is interesting. Would they let you in?

I scored 12/15, which I'm assuming is enough. Probably.