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Jan 28, 2008

Movies, TV Etc

I've been doing some intense media stuff lately. Partly as research for the podcast (which comes out next weekend) and partly because the temperature here in Melbourne has been pretty high lately and I can't be stuffed doing much else.

So what have I been hitting my retinas with?

The first three episodes of the second series of the tv series "Primeval", which I highly recommend you watch even if you have to torrent it as I did. The premise of this one is simple - anomalies in time are opening up all over London and a team of scientists lead by Professor Nick Cutter (Douglas Henshall) have the job of returning whatever comes through the anomalies to their original time periods. His job is complicated by the fact that his wife Helen (Juliet Aubrey) who disappeared into an anomaly eight years before, has returned and seems to a) know how to predict where an anomaly will appear and b) is playing around with changing the time lines. Raptors, pteradons, smilodons, pre-Cambrian worms the size of large dogs and highly intelligent ambush predators from the future all come through and menace the team. It's a good solid adventure series with engaging characters, a story arc that hooks you in and it's a lot more fun than the nihilistic, virally-hyped shaky-cam of a movie like "Cloverfield" - which we also saw. A week after viewing "Cloverfield" (dumb name, why not call it Pastel Pony Wonderland Movie) my reaction is that it's a godzilla flick for youtube reality tv junkies. Nice monster but its' physics are all fucked. You can't get a tentacular calimari-textured thingie that big. The Inverse Cube Law makes even a muscular endoskeletal daikaju like Godzilla ludicrous. Someone should do a giant monster with carbon-fibre bones and muscles like braided ships hawsers. Gimme a pre-Cambrian worm anyday.

I've also been nibbling away at Series One of Have Gun-Will Travel, the late 50s western series starring Richard Boone as Paladin, the knight-gunfighter who solves problems more often with his brain than his perfectly balanced 45 caliber Colt Single Action Army revolver. The episodes are slightly less than 30 minutes and the writing and acting are wonderful. Watching Boone carry a live rattlesnake at arm's length into an indian encampment was one of the greatest bits of tv actor bravery I've ever seen. The guest actors are pretty good too - Charles Bronson, Strother Martin, June Lockhart, Warren Oates, James Coburn. Can't wait until I can afford series two and three from Amazon.

I also got out to the cinema to see No Country For Old Men, the new Coen Brothers movie based on a novel by Mr Comedy, Cormac McCarthy. Excellent film, even when there's a microcephalic tosser sitting in the row in front of you talking all the way through it. Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin are all excellent in this one. Add it to your list. While watching it we saw the preview of There Will Be Blood, the new Paul Thomas Anderson flick starring Daniel Day Lewis. I'll have to check it out even if DDL is doing a note-perfect imitiation of John Huston's Noah Cross from Chinatown.

That's all for now. Gotta watch some movies.

Jan 14, 2008

Extra Linkages

That Old Feeling: When Porno Was Chic - a Time magazine article on the golden age of cinema erotica which mentions Alice In Wonderland.

Grant Tracey's review of The Big Combo.

An Appreciation of Burt Lancaster's The Swimmer.

And as an extra treat, here's an entire episode of one of my favourite childhood tv shows, The Adventures Of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene, thanks to the magical kingdom that is Youtube.


Paleocinema Podcast 7

Here it is, numero siete. In this 'cast, I look at the first of my own personal Magnificent Seven action heroes pre-1980, examine The Big Combo, a kick-arse film noir from the 1950s and as a guilty and naughty pleasure, examine the 1975 or 1976 porn version of Alice In Wonderland, then end with a brief spiel about the movies I've watched since the start of 2008.
The download link is here.

Jan 2, 2008


The movie opens Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) sitting at a bus stop chewing a carrot when a woman in labour staggers past. Seconds later, a car broadsides into another parked vehicle and a hard-case gets out and follows the woman into an alley while brandishing a gun. Reluctantly, Smith follows.

Mr. Smith is to gunfights what Bruce Lee was to kicking people in the back of the head while standing in front of them. He's the last person in the World you want to see if you're about to cut a baby out of a woman with a hunting knife and for the guy who is about to do just that, Mr Smith is the last person he sees. More villains turn up and Mr Smith handles the problem of shooting bad guys and delivering a baby simultaneously. When he severs the umbilical with a well aimed shot, the movie kicks into high gear. Paul Giamatti turns up as Hertz, the leader of the killers. Time was when the villain in an action movie was a suave Alan Rickman Eurotrash thief. Giamatti looks like the kind of guy who spends all day in the public library, which is possibly why his character is such a good hitman.

If Smith is the angriest man in the World, Hertz is the smartest killer. When it comes to following clues he makes Basil Rathbone look like Bill Murray in Caddyshack. When the mother of the baby is killed, Smith is left with the kid and recruits Donna, a lactating prostitute played by Monica Bellucci to wet-nurse the baby, who as the plot unfolds is revealed to be the intended subject of the original hit.

Like all good action films, this one creates its' own reality. If you buy in to the bit with the umbilicus, you're in the movie's zone. Giamatti, Owen and Bellucci are excellent in what are essentially a string of action sequences laced together with a plot that doesn't, and doesn't have to make much sense. There are some dark and icky bits in it, especially when Hertz tortures Smith, but in general, this is a great popcorn and beer movie. Stylish gun-porn.