rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

24-8-2006 (archived)

As you may have noted, a couple of foreign-looking people were removed from a flight recently because, basically, they were talking foreign. Possibly Arabic, but who knows? Not the other passengers on that plane, certainly. Rather than attempt to convey my rage and contempt, I shall refer you to chris at qwlghm, who has conveyed his excellently.

I suppose that harassing and inconveniencing innocent foreign-looking people in airports is a step less serious than shooting innocent foreign-looking people on the tube. Not a big enough step, though.

26-8-2006 (archived)

Those people who greatly admire the writing of Philip K. Dick tend to refer to him as PKD. I suspect this is mostly to avoid the spectacle of often large, unkempt and hairy men declaring that they are, indeed, passionate about Dick. Or words to that effect. I have never, myself, been enthusiastic; his creativity seems less significant to me than is usually claimed, I don't like his prose, and his writings very clearly reflect the fact that he was a heavy user of mind-altering drugs who was, not to put too fine a point on it, paranoid, delusional, and mad.

A Scanner Darkly” is about a similarly drug-hazed central character, and works for me much better on the screen than it did on the page. The film is visually astonishing, making tremendous use of digital rotoscoping to do things that would have been difficult otherwise (like the scramble suits) and to portray the right, unreal, atmosphere. There's a great deal of humour, mostly in the form of “junkie logic”, and a significant emotional charge as we realise just how thoroughly Arctor is being used. Different, and brilliant.

29-8-2006 (archived)

So, “Snakes on a Plane”. The pitch-as-title B movie, the pitch made up during happy hour in a “worst pitch” contest (apparently, this is true). It could have been horrible, but actually it's great - you can count off the horror and disaster movie cliches as they happen, it's witty, beautifully polished, and imaginatively horrible, and I don't think I've had this much fun in a movie since the first Pirates. Best B movie EVAR.

31-8-2006 (archived)

So, the Japanese get TV shows with Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman competing to recognise and play classic metal tunes on their guitars, plus also cleavage, and we get Big Brother. Where's the justice in that?

All email problems seem now to be fixed, including the long-standing one with some hotmail addresses getting bounced as “probably spam”. My first name @ this domain should now work for everybody. All praise the Penfold. As you were.

2-9-2006 (archived)

Lady in the Water”, the Shyamalan picture without a twist, has had much the same sort of critical reception as his last few movies - that is, a sound kicking. The enormous gulf between critic rating (24%) and punter rating (68%) for this film on Rotten Tomatoes is perhaps explicable by the film's one unsympathetic human character being a thoroughly unprepossessing film critic, though there is certainly more to it; this is a film based on a bedtime story for his children, and if you're not prepared to accept it as, indeed, a bedtime story, it will not work at all.

If you will take it for what it is, much of it works well, most notably Giamatti's central and film-carrying performance and the undoubtedly beautiful visuals. Unfortunately, there are other things that don't; foremost, Bryce Dallas Howard confirms the impression given in Shyamalan's previous movie, that she simply can't act at all on camera. Apparently she was cast without audition after impressing him in a play, and he's not yet willing to admit he made a mistake. Even worse, Shyamalan has (for the second time) expanded his own part beyond a cameo. In Signs it was only a few lines, and so survivable. Here he makes himself a main character, even a candidate for the hero, and since he's every bit as bad as Howard, that's a terrible decision. If you recast those two roles, this would have been a rather good little movie; as it is, it's merely passable. I actually rather enjoyed it, but then I have a known weakness for anything smacking of the mythological. At least, for the first time since the Sixth Sense, he has made a film that is clearly better than the last. Still, he desperately needs an editor, or a friend, who can help him to salvage his talent from his whimsy and ego.

5-9-2006 (archived)

I was warned that the gansta-speak of Freddy Rodriguez and Christian Bale in “Harsh Times” might be very annoying, but in fact it very effectively created a sense of what idiots the two really are before quickly dropping out of my attention. Despite the genuinely horrifying nature of Bale's part, you end up feeling a certain sympathy for the poor, mad, broken boy, and as usual his performance is stupendous. A very good, very troubling, very intense movie, and one that should be seen.

7-9-2006 (archived)

A few days ago I was reminiscing about Star Fleet, a series very familiar to anyone watching Saturday morning television in the early 80s. Like any other seven and eight year old child exposed to it, I firmly believed that it was the greatest programme of all time - not without reason. Sadly it's not available on DVD, at least not in the wonderful English dub, but there is a twelve-minute set of clips on YouTube which genuinely brought tears of nostalgia to my eyes. Genius. Bring on the giant robot.

9-9-2006 (archived)

Crank” was directed by people who previously made their living from commercials, and it shows in the fast pace and the overt stylishness and humour. There's the same sort of over-clever editing and camerawork that ruined Domino, but here it's made to work very effectively, and the overall result is something that seems a lot like a Guy Ritchie movie would if it was great instead of sucking. Stupid, funny, oozing machismo, and Amy Smart is gorgeous. Fun fun fun.

11-9-2006 (archived)

We saw “Adrift” and “The Wicker Man” back to back, largely on the theory that we might as well get the rubbish horror out of the way in one evening. That we did.

Adrift is essentially Open Water redux, but less artistically coherent and with more characters. I thought Open Water an interesting failure, and this one does not approach it, especially because I was completely unconvinced by their problem. Short, at least.

Let me start by saying of The Wicker Man that I liked it better than the original, but since I am heretical in my loathing of the original that's not saying much. Here at least Cage is pretty good in a frankly rubbish part, and a few of the others are at least mildy spooky, while Ellen Burstyn makes a somewhat entertaining job of doing completely unhinged. Diane Delano was channelling Kathy Bathes in Misery to the extent that I thought she was her until I checked the credits. None of that is able to rescue a film that, even by the most generous standards, is a failure. Two to avoid.

13-9-2006 (archived)

The joy of the internet is that anything that can exist probably does by now. Including Christian sex toy sites. I suspect further comment is superfluous.