rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

9-10-2006 (archived)

The Night Listener” is a tender and rather disconcerting story of a telephone friendship that develops between Robin Williams's splendidly-portrayed (with, refreshingly, none of the scenery-chewing that he has been so prone to in the past), emotionally dependent gay radio host and a dying boy who has written a superb autobiography - and who may be, himself, a fiction. Armistead Maupin's novel, on which this is based, is apparently an autobiographical one, and this unsettles, intrigues and moves throughout. Excellent.

12-10-2006 (archived)

The Black Dahlia” is an extremely engaging slice of neo-noir, if not as cute and clever as Brick was, and Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett are both very good in its dual leads. Scarlett Johansson finishes the triangle off lusciously, and the whole movie is both beautiful and incredibly atmospheric - and oh, the clothes. Late 40s America incarnated.

Many critics have slated this, both for overacting by some of the supporting cast (which is probably fair) and more particularly for being over-complicated and confusing; I, and everyone else I know in real life who saw it, would disagree. Maybe it's just that I only associate with smart people.

14-10-2006 (archived)

A few of us went to see the Vagina Monologues this week, taking advantage of a “boys get in free with a girl” offer to obtain superb seats at the Palace. The two boys in our party probably made up five to ten percent of all the men in the audience (five by number, ten by weight ;)), but that's ok, we can survive bathing in a sea of oestrogen just fine, thanks. Lidbert wrote well about it, and I have little to add. It was both exceptionally funny (monkeybox! milky pocket! obsessive-compulsive moan!) and, in places, almost unbearably sad and angry-making. And touching, and full of humanity, and silliness, and hope, and love. This is great theatre. I will see it again, and I only hope that the performers next time do as good a job as did Carol Barnes and Nikki Sanderson.

And next time the incredible Natalie Casey tells me to get my cock out, I shall.

16-10-2006 (archived)

Clerks II” was always likely to be a success with me, as all of Kevin Smith's movies have been to one extent or another, and in the end I liked this one more than most (though not as much as the guy who walked in just as the opening credits ended and then laughed loudly at all the wry-smile lines). Of course it's well-cast, and very funny in a real-people-talking way, and Smith's dialogue remains perhaps the best in the business. Perhaps more surprisingly, it's very touching in places. Not surprisingly at all, Rosario Dawson is just delicious, especially when dancing. Jason Mewes as Jay is great entertainment throughout, and the huge Jacksons dance number is extremely funny - especially Jay and SB's hairstyles.

And then there's Pillow Pants the pussy troll. Which is going to haunt me for some time.

Fact of the day: “The idea to have Jason Mewes do his ‘Silence of the Lambs’ dance to ‘Goodbye Horses’ came straight from Jason Mewes who apparently does this on a regular basis to the director.” “To” being very much the appropriate verb here, I suspect. And IMDB thread of the day is definitely the one asking for an explanation of the term ass to mouth. You're welcome.

19-10-2006 (archived)

Hope. When we ask “why do we put ourselves through this?”, the answer is usually hope. Except when it's money.

So, we go to see “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” in the hope that it will be, if not an unexpected gem, at least other than complete shit; at least shiny shit. And they made it, very obviously, for the money.

I'm on record as not being a fan of the original, classic or no classic, but we enjoyed the remake - mostly because of Jessica Biel. Sadly, this lacks everything that had apart from gore and pretty girls, and it doesn't make enough of the latter. Jordana Brewster is, indeed, almost distressingly pretty, and Diora Baird and her playboy-certified DDs bounce beautifully, but really this is all about sadism and stupidity - both of the legendary rednecks, and of the meat-for-the-beasts teens. It's well enough executed, if completely cynically so, but there is no humour, no lightness of touch, no character, no relief from the nastiness, no credibility to the sudden turn to depravity, and - back to where we began, and most crushingly - no hope. We know, after all, that the bad guys are going to win, and that the good guys are going to die. We have already seen the films that are to come after it. It is, then, in every sense, hopeless.

21-10-2006 (archived)

I generally try to stay away from politics and particularly away from current US and UK foreign policy in the middle east, but Charlie Stross's recent post on the Lancet study on excess mortality since the Western invasion is well worth bringing to your attention. (The comment thread is particularly good; as one, late, commenter pointed out, it is interesting for the US administration to be describing as discredited a method that the government itself uses in other wars, and teaches.) Many people are making the particularly dumb mistake of confusing their figure (of the order of 655,000 extra dead by any means since the invasion) with the Iraq Body Count site number (of the order of 46,000 people reported killed in the western press by direct military action). Of course these figures are very different, since they are counting very different things. The Lancet number includes people who, for example, died due to catching an infection when weakened by the extra work required to keep house in a country where electricity supplies are completely unreliable. These are, nonetheless, due to the war; they are our fault.

23-10-2006 (archived)

If anyone expected anything other than a typical Adam Sandler movie out of “Click”, they would have been disappointed. Actually, they probably wouldn't've been, because anyone that stupid is probably too stupid to notice when a movie doesn't meet their preconceptions. Sandler remains adequate but not nearly as funny as he thinks he is, and his string of casting unrealistic hot leads opposite him continues - honestly, he has about as much chance with Kate Beckinsale as you do. Possibly less. Hasselhoff, at least, is surprisingly good value in full-on self-mockery mode.

It all works well enough, the ending is actually ok, and the message - live your life now, not for where you want to be - is not quite rocket science, but a lot of people could probably do with hearing it. Of course, those are people who aren't going to see borderline-watchable light comedies. Still, it's fine. Nothing more - but that would have been a surprise.

26-10-2006 (archived)

The Devil Wears Prada” was a bit of a surprise. The joy of having low expectations is that it's so nice when you're wrong, and this was a rather lovely film. Streep, of course, is just brilliant; she manages to be extravagantly subtle, the sort of nuance that you can't miss, and is perhaps the only actor working who can be visibly, shockingly good without stealing a single scene. Tucci, on the other hand, stole every scene he was in, and rightly so. Anne Hathaway suddenly has a proper career, and some credibility, and plenty of ability too - she's startlingly, unexpectedly sexy here, and plays the part just as it should be, and Emily Blunt gives perfectly-judged support as a desperate, needy assistant. Much like Click (except in quality), this is really about work taking over life, and ruthlessness overtaking character, and is both very funny and just moving enough in all the right places.

28-10-2006 (archived)

You've probably already seen this, but our guarantee is of quality, not freshness. Actually, not so much of the quality, by and large. Hey ho.

Anyway. Touring bands always have riders specifying what equipment they need (not usually entertaining) and what backstage facilities and refreshments they require (often entertaining in a fin de siecle decadence sort of way). Iggy Pop's rider, on the other hand, is highly entertaining throughout, right up to the last page (an incidental idea for a reality TV show), and really surprisingly restrained in the unreasonable demand stakes to boot.

30-10-2006 (archived)

The History Boys” has had a good deal of kicking from reviewers, for different reasons (though some have loved it, and said so loudly). What we tend to refer to as the quality press have kicked it in some cases for being too theatrical (a criticism I think both largely false and completely foolish unless aimed at acting styles, since a well-filmed play need not be overly cinematic to be effective) and insufficiently political (which I think stupid enough to need no response, frankly; it is not about politics). The IMDB boards have largely attacked it because it has gay people in it.

It is really about education and boyhood, with the subplot about Hector's sexuality (a truly gigantic Richard Griffiths, playing again a tragicomic aging gay lecher almost twenty years on from Withnail's Monty) adding tragedy and putting the boys into a strange position relative to the school. But really this is about boyhood growing into manhood, beginning to find a place as a person sexually, religiously, socially and academically, and about education as it once was in the best of places and how it, sadly, hardly ever can be in today's system where A level students sit exams four times in 21 months and have hardly time to breathe. While the boys are not quite drawn to life, and deliberately so, they are compellingly and ideally ideally believable, as are Hector and Irwin, and it is often tremendously funny. And at the end, as the coda brings us crashing down, it is both affirming and enormously moving. A small, perfect jewel, to be cherished.