Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Have you seen ANY films at all?

The above was a question I was asked the other day, and now I feel obliged to defend my right to complete nerdhood. Of course, I could have done so by reciting the entirety of MC Nerdalot's It is Pitch Dark, but I think I may be the only one in my programming class who knows about Infocom, so that would surely backfire and be interpreted as somehow cool.

Anyway, as I said in defense, it can seem as though I HAVEN'T ever seen any films, because I did not spend my child- and teenage-hood watching popular films, and many of the must sees I have never seen. For example, the following films I have seen not a frame of:

The Terminator films, Mad Max I-LX, The Rambos, Fight Club, Jaws, any Texas Chainsaw whatever and the like, True Lies, Predator (wait... saw the end) and most of the big, popular movies of the 1990s. The reason between this is that my dad, unlike I gather most dads, wasn't an action film guy. I have never seen Jean Claude Van Damme in action. He was a comedy guy. So just about every video rental brought back was a 1980s screwball comedy, and I thus see myself as an unwitting expert of the obscure titles of the eighties.

So, have I seen any films? Check out THIS list... if there is no film on this list that you have NEVER heard of, my cap shall be doffed to you like a motherfucker.

Neighbors - The dark and frankly disturbing comedy set entirely in one house that Jon Belushi and Dan Aykroyd made right after Blues Brothers.

Innerspace - One of my absolute fave films, with Martin Short as the everyman who gets a shrunken jet-fighter hero played by Dennis Quaid injected into him and has sex with Meg Ryan as a direct result. Brilliant comic action sci-fi antics haemoragghe forth.

Time Raiders - Terry Gilliams first major film. I think all of Monty Python are in this one, and I remember it being quite good though I'm hard pressed to remember a single scene.

Stripes - Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and John Candy go to military school and up being given a rocket-launching winnebago for reasons I never really got.

Trading Places - You SHOULD know this one, as it is an honest-to-God classic. Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee-Curtis, Denholm Elliot, rampant insanity.

The Silver Streak - Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in a complete baffling combination of buddy comedy and bloodlust-fuelled thriller. Also features the dude who played Jaws in the James Bond films. (Or, if you're Gen-X, the psycho dude with unhealthy teeth from Happy Gilmore)

Detective School Dropouts - Modern re-telling of Romeo & Juliet that kicks Baz Luhrmann's arse. Starring Lorin Drefyuss and David Landberg. If you've never heard of those two guys, it's because they only ever did one other film...

Dutch Treat - ...wherein they're two guys who manage to commit manslaughter on a cruise ship and thus need to flee into Amsterdam, get chained up by S&M prostitutes and, upon escaping, convince a Dutch pop group that they're big time managers. Would be brilliant if it wasn't such a blatant attempt to sell this group to the American market. I don't think it worked.

The Hudsucker Proxy - Some comedy about a guy who invents the Hula hoop in the topsy-turvy business world of the 30s... and then goes bankrupt.

EVERY Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer film ever made. If you don't know them, they're like modern day Italian versions of Asterix and Obelix.

Black Sheep and Tommy Boy - David Space and Chris Farley make the same film twice. It's still funny the second time..

Life Stinks - Mel Brooks and Jeffrey Tambor star in the poor man's Trading Places. Still highly amusing.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Matthew Broderick's big break! Some dude named Alan Ruck is a dude who's the nerdy friend, but apparently makes himself cool by perving on Ferris' girlfriend. That's all I remember, aside from the Principal being completely insane.

Down Periscope - Kelsey Grammar and the chick from Dumb & Dumber in an ancient diesel sub, facing off against Bruce Dern and Philip Seymour Hoffman - crazy wargame style. Hilarity ensues.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World - Again, complete classic. Everyone who calls themself a movie person should have seen this. Comedies may get better than this, but never bigger. Spencer Tracy, Phil Silvers, Sid Caeser, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters... yes, they're OLD people names. It's an OLD film.

Spies Like Us - Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase single-handedly stop the Cold War, despite being a pair of bumbling tits!

On the Nose - Robbie Coltrane and Dan Aykroyd finally united on celluloid! Scamming the Dublin bookers using a cursed Aborigine head in a jar that predicts the winning horses. Serious. This is a real film.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Michael Caine and Steve Martin face off as unscrupulous conmen fighting for control of Beaumont Seville in the South of France, taking Glenne Headley as their mark. Featuring Emperor Palpatine in a cameo.

BOTH Stake-outs - Emilio Esteves and Richard Drefyuss make wise-cracks while sitting in a house waiting for something to happen. Eventually it does and hardcore action ensues. The film-makers bafflingly decided that Rosie O'Donnell was just what the sequel was missing.

Sneakers - Robert Redford, River Phoenix, Sydney Poitier and Dan Aykroyd battle Ben Kinglsey through their new-fangled hacker-machines of the 80s. Probably slightly more thriller than comedy, but 100% cool.

To Be Or Not To Be - Mel Brooks running a theatre in Poland during the Nazi occupation, and fighting the good fight for the revolution.

Without a Clue in London - Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley play, respectively, the bumbling, alcoholic Holmes and the brilliant Watson.

Bullshot! - Boy's own spoof, recounting the adventures of Wing Commander Bullshot Crummond starring... I've no idea. Mel Smith and Billy Connolly make cameos.

Disorganized Crime - A host of crims show up at the appointed hour... but the boss has been arrested. So, they have to wing the bank job. Hilarity and much tension ensues.

Roxanne - Steve Martin retells the story of Cyrano d'Bergerac in a small American town with the help of a large prosthetic and Daryl Hannah.

Wilt - Griff Rhys-Jones and Mel Smith make, to my knowledge, their only big screen foray. Jones fantasises about killing his wife and - tada! - she dies. Smith is the pig-headed detective who's out to get him.

In & Out - Kevin Kline is gay. Wow, what a novel concept! This one sucks. But I have seen the whole thing.

Bowfinger - Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, directed by Frank Oz. I do believe the last good film any of them were involved in.

Funny Bones - What the fuck was WITH this film? Jerry Lewis and Lee Evans, apparently. Oliver Reed as a villain who does nothing. I can't describe this.

Missing Pieces - Eric Idle and Robert Wurhl save a murder mystery involving Eric's estranged Buddhist monk foster parent and an ancient Chinese dagger. I swear, none of these films are made up.

Great Outdoors - John Candy and Dan Aykroyd go on holiday together. Gristle-eating hi-jinks.

Funny Farm - Chevy Chase goes on holiday. Testicle-eating hi-jinks.

The entire National Lampoon's Vacation series (Yes, even Vegas) - Chevy Chase and Beverly d'Angelo go on holiday. A lot. Featuring Mel Smith and Eric Idle briefly.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - Steve Martin makes a tribute to the film noirs of his youth by editing himself into the classics doing wise-cracks. Quite amusing.

Splitting Heirs - Eric Idle discovers that Ric Moranis is King of England. Or something like that. More nudity than you'd think the story would require.

Parting Shots - Massively unpopular but, IMHO, hilarious Michael Winner comedy about a guy who's going to die and decides to kill everyone who fucked him over in his life. Amazingly feel-good tone. John Cleese, Oliver Reed, Felicity Kendall, Peter Davison, Bob Hoskins and Ben Kingsley. (Only Eric's missing!) Apparently Nicola Bryant is also in this film but I have no idea where.

Canadian Bacon - John Candy's last film.

The Ernest series - I'm pretty sure all of them. Ernest Rides Again and Ernest Escapes From Jail are, of course, the best.

The Three Amigos - Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short manage to save a small Mexico town in between endless crotch-thrusting and camp singing. Cameo by Phil Hartman.

The Vidiot from UHF - Weird Al Yankovic and Michael Richards team up to save a community TV station.

Lady Birds - Rodney Dangerfield has something to do with cross-dressing boys playing soccer with the girls.

The Long Shot - Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and two guys you've never heard of (or, alternatively, FOUR guys you've never heard of) do a lot of very stupid stuff when gambling at the horse track.

Sgt Bilko - Steve Martin is the conman sergeant, Dan Aykroyd and Phil Hartman are his rubes. Quite good, in spite of its reputation. May contain an early appearance from Tony Shalhoub from memory..

Lost & Found - David Spade tries to crack onto a French chick. Hilarity ensues.

The House Guest - Sinbad scams his way into Phil Hartman's home by pretending to be a black friend he hasn't seen since college. Lots of education on the differences between Anglo-Saxon and African American gentlemen ensues.

Senseless - Marlon Wayans gets super senses from an experiment, which allows him to outsmart the villain of the piece, David Space.

All at Sea - Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau pretend to be performers to get a free cruise, and find themselves in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the prima donna bandleader Brent Spiner. Once again, these are all real films.

Nuns on the Run - Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane go into drag as nuns to escape the Triads. Featuring a rare (for this list) Doctor Who connection with Camille Coduri featuring as Eric's short-sighted girlfriend.

Phew. Add to this both Caddy Shacks, both Rent-a-Kids and all three Cannonball Runs. That should do for the tip of the iceberg.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Conversations in a Library

(Written Friday, November 7th)

The following is a conversation that I have overhead in the past couple of minutes that I felt needed to be preserved in the public domain. It could well be of particular interest to my friend Cameron J Mason, who works as a teacher.


GIRL 1: Awwww, fuck! Fuck. Fucking shit!

GIRL 2: What is it?

GIRL 1: Have you found any of this shit? Fucking Australian serial killers? It's bullshit. You can't find anything.

GIRL 2: Who are you looking for?

GIRL 1: I don't know. Famous Australian ones? I got this site they gave me with fucking famous Australians but it's nothing. Fuck, I am so over this.

GIRL 2: Just... see if you can find a serial killer that you know.

GIRL 1: What?

GIRL 2: Y'know, see if you can find, like, on that site, a serial killer that you know the name of.

GIRL 1: I don't know any fucking serial killers!

GIRL 2: What, none?

GIRL 1: No. Do you?

GIRL 2: (pig-like snort) Yeah. Of course.

GIRL 1: Who?

GIRL 2: You know. Hannibal.

GIRL 1: Oh, right. (pause) Fuck, he's not on here this site is bullshit! Oh, shit, forgot we was in a library, eh?

GIRL 2: No, no, try this... Google.

GIRL 1: Aw, yeah. That one - Wikipedia! That'll have it.

GIRL 2: There, that's easy. So...

GIRL 1: Just copy it.

GIRL 2: This bit?

GIRL 1: The whole fucking thing.

GIRL 2: Right.

GIRL 1: Once we've finished this we can go watch a movie, eh?

GIRL 2: *Big sigh* Save.

Of course if you open up the wikipedia page on Hannibal Lector, the first half of the first sentence reads Hannibal Lecter, M.D. is a fictional character in a series of novels... which kind of gives the game away. Of course, the observant reader would have noted that the girls did not know said fictional cahracter's last name. Which means they opened up THIS page, which would explain the comment by one them, vis a vis "Fuck he's old"

I shall be using this blog entry as reference for when I read information that girls are, by their very nature, more intelligent than those of cursed by testicles.

Random Mind Grues

Something you often hear listed among the most annoying things in the world is getting a song stuck in your head. Of course, getting a bad song is worse. But I supposit now, that getting an esoteric and/or downright stupid song is the absolute worst case. I am speaking as somebody who, for about the last week, has had NWA's seminal anthem Fuck tha Police stuck in my head. It's very annoying because there's no outlet - I can't hum it because the 'song' doesn't really have any discernible tune to it, I can't sing because I don't know all of the words and, erm, well... I dunno I think this speaks for itself, surely? No? How about the fact that the song earned the Niggaz With Attitude the worlds shortest and most informal warning ever from the LAPD, quoted simply as "Watch yo' back"?

It's been driving me crazy as every time I think of something clever to say/write, the first candidate in my mind is:

"Right about now the NWA Court o' Law is in full effect! Judge Dre presiding, pros'cutin' attorneys MC Rinn, Ice Cube, an' EZ muthafuckin' E!"

Which isn't even clever!

*

I just realised this morning why I have given up on DW fandom. The new series has destroyed it.

Well, I've probably said something about it before, but no, people, I have made a breakthrough here...

In fandom, because DW was a cult show, hovering just above the fringe of obscurity, you had to be the sort of person who seeks out old TV to know about it, and then the sort of person who likes old TV to get into it. Then, because of it's obscure and seemingly frivolous nature, you had to go up a whole other layer of appreciation again to go online to talk about it.

Those same people like the new series. When I'm not blowing a gasket completely over a season finale so shit I refuse to even dignify it with a review, I'm living proof of it, along with several of my friends. In fact, Christ, ALL of my old-series fan friends like the new! So, why has OG become somewhere on the internet I can't even bring myself to visit?

Simple. Doctor Who is everywhere, and talking about TV shows is something that's just done now. Doctor Who is a massive, massive success... with a young audience target. That means...

Thousands of socially illiterate teenagers online!

Yes, it's IMDB syndrome. This is something I really should have picked up on a lot earlier. As I'm sure I mentioned once or twice, I really like Jekyll. I wanted to discuss my love of it with like-minded people online. However, for whatever reason, like-minded people had run away in droves from the TV section talking about said show - I'm guessing because of a sickening two-man self-congratulation society of inbreds applauding their own genius, either that or the show had too much sex for the prudes online. Bah and humbug to them all, but I still wanted to attempt an intelligent conversation about the show.

Turns out locking myself in a room would have been a far better choice, as when I pointed out that 'Steven Moffat illustrating that we all have an inhuman dark side' and that 'Hyde was a natural part of him' was a load of bollocks given that Hyde didn't appear until he met Claire, I was told to watch the show more carefully as "he doesn't meet Claire in the first episode" and "it isn't in chronological order, I can see it would be confusing". I cannot remember the exact furious response I gave, but you can imagine - mostly I remember saying "Believe it or not, I have no difficulty in the arduous task of watching a television screen for six hours" and lambasting them for the implied sleight on my intelligence, their own retardation, re-iterating the point of if it's natural I guess that explains why K.U needed a multi-billion dollar fucking clone for the most expensive project ever made to produce Hyde. Who is apparenlty natural, if you missed that part. Well, fuck me! Oh, and he DOESN'T meet Claire for the first time in the first episode. Wow. Who'd have thought it? I guess the children give it away when you think about it, but I must have been too busy injecting alcohol directly into my cerebral cortex at the fucking time.

Whoop, sorry, bit too much of a flashback there.

Anyway, the two I-can't-believe-how-fucking-stupid-they-are fellows were STUNNED that I should take offence at being treated like a moron, though quickly recovered to talk about how there HAD to be a second series* because we hadn't learnt who Klein and Utterson were. (Actually, some of us have)

It still slipped me by, though, until the other day, when I reflected on how the characters & actors forums had gone from casual, urbane chatter about character motivations and the obtuse swings and roundabouts of Tom Baker's career(s), to five pages of SQUEE! and bullshit groups like "Slaves of Susan", "Protectors of Pigbin Josh" and "Lycanthrops of Lytton". And my last visit to the Mythmakers, where I basically felt the need to give up on a vain dream of something legible.

Basically... it's great for the show, obviously, that millions of young people are watching. But... this is the worst thing possible for online communities, because what made OG great was that it was one of the places on the internet where the odd Aspergers inflicted teenager was an oddity rather than a fact of life. Now it's become just like anywhere else online. Eg, shit.

*

I get stressed easily. Something that occurred to me today during a driving lesson, near the beginning of which I was informed that, had it been a test I would have had 100, a state that continued for an amazingly long period. I have apparently mastered blind-spots, reverse parallel parking, 3-point turns, proper methods of acceleration, scanning, round-a-bouts (save exit signals) and whatever bollocksy new terms the RTA decides to throw at us.

But... I got stressed. Near the end a car pulled out from a service station into a side street, occupying the very road I was planning to do a righ turn into. So I gave way to it. I then had to turn very fast to get through before a complete bitch, who was meant to be giving way to me ran into me. This put my nerves on edge. Due to this I subsequently mis-remembered and got confused about the location of the worlds strangest Give Way zone, located on Wyong River where a flood washed away one half the road for about five metres, nearly speeding into it. I got more stressed out, which wasn't helped by having to turn into the Pacific Highway with my view of the oncoming traffic nearly entire blocked. Gahh. After I turned out, I was further stressed out by stopping too close to the car in front of me. Gaaah, it's not much but it was building up. I turn into a side street, which I do perfectly but MISS the shared pedestrian zone. That's a 10k speed limit and I'm doing forty. I slow right down. Right turn. I give way to a disabled pedestrian. And... he gives me a death stare.

WHY??? Sorry, mate, was I driving too quickly for you? Did you lose your legs to a car exactly the same model as mine, down to the giant "ABC Driving School" sign and dickhead in stripy shirt in the drivers seat? Did my evil twin kill your brother? I have no idea. But that was a look of pure, unadultered, unsolicited venom, directed straight at me. At a time when I didn't need it.

I couldn't withstand it for long - so after 3 seconds I pulled the fuck out of their, having judged the evil bastard as having way given upon his sinister arse. But... I was so stressed that I did a left-turn to the right.

Or, to put that another way..I WAS DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE FUCKING ROAD!

I did not know it was possible to get that stressed. I assume soon afterwards my lungs would have forgotten that they process oxygen.

On the bright side, 49 hours, so I can get my Ps this month! Hello, unsuspecting road-users!

*

Due to the fact that this has been a text file I've been adding to in small increments over a couple of weeks, I need to update this. My curious obsession with Fuck That Police has since abated, but has been replaced with a similar one regarding Dancing in the Dark by Bruce "The Boss" Springsteen. Two questions: how the hell did he get that nickname, and why exactly CAN'T you start a fire in the dark?

*

Among the crap that I've been doing is my pitch for the BBC Writer's Room, which has stalled horribly. It shouldn't surprise anyone that it's a radio script with which I want to shout out "Hire me, Big Finish, you bastards!" due to the facts that there are no TV slots and I have a loose grip on reality at the best of times. After thinking quite long and hard about what the hell the show could actually be, assuming that the Beeb wouldn't be too impressed with The Professor and Ace, The Stranger and Ms Brown, or Cricket Boy and his Faithful Band of In-Grates based on previous cease-and-desist writs issued.

Obviously I can't write anything TOO serious, because my knowledge of Britain is limited. But at the same time, I liked the idea of showing I could work with a series. I also, probably surprisingly, decided no science-fiction because I'm unsure of my ability to avoid genre cliche. And there had to be a role for India Fisher, because her talent is going criminally unnurtured. What I came up with is an idea I gave up on in the past but, really, is probably quite good. At least I think so.

The idea is Mycroft, a show revolving around... Mycroft. Lord Mycroft, supposedly the descendant of the inspiration for Conan-Doyle's fictional character, who is still pulling the strings behind the government. Modernized slightly, with him operating out of a seemingly irrelevant Secret Service department, 'Cache 17', populated by characters I've put some work into yet cynically see as typical TV archetypes - Penny, the imperfect audience identification figure brimming with India Fisherness; Charles, the smug bureaucrat who is the titular (decoy) head of C17 and also the only person who takes his position seriously; Dr Bradley, the stand-offish polymath agent, psychologist and profiler who ties up loose ends and seems the closest thing Mycroft has to a friend; and Miranda, the perpetually busy and frustrated MI6 liason who has to shoulder most of the feather-soothing footwork. I've come up with eight basic ideas for plots, only one of which I'm proud to say is nicked from the world of DW. (An episode set entirely in a BBC Newsroom in the middle of a national crisis - an idea that came from "Hey, what if Live 34 (or whatever it's called) was actually good?")

But it's occurred to me in the wake of the global economic crisis.. that this is a time when people aren't going to like the idea of figure controlling the nation's government in secret, because via logic of extension they must also be a completely clueless twat. Because of this, Mycroft either needs to be recently re-hired, a maverick working outside of the system, or given new powers due to the economic crisis. These all have problems related to the series premise and keeping it politically netural. I also find it hard to fathom writing it and NOT acknowledging the current global crises, which beggars the question of how it can feasibly remain escapist entertainment. I don't want to write The Hollowmen, especially not for a country that I am considerably less familiar with. So... that idea's completely stalled at the moment. Which is something of a shame given that I basically have the first episode written.

*

Speaking of political neutrality, anyone else confused by the passion with which the Doctor proclaimed the evil of communist Daleks in particular in Brotherhood of the Daleks?

Interestingly, that was the only bit of the story that confused me, in spite of the behind-the-scenes clips being nothing but Alan Barnes and Nick Briggs wetting themselves screaming "Nobody will be able to follow this! NOBODY! Ahahahaha! Nothing can stop the Carthaginians of furious audacity, aha! NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN ADUMBATE ME NOW!"

Seriously, why would the Doctor hate communism? Okay, I get that it's an impractical ideal, but the Doctor's a fanciful idealist! And the mad scientist played by Michael Cochrane (had no idea it was him for the whole time, actually) believes that he can rehabilitate the Daleks, doing so through a means that nobody else (due to the relative dearth of half-plant men wandering around the galaxy) has been able to even try, and the Doctor just bitch-slaps him down and tells him that he can't. Because he just can't. Cochrane asks him to share the dream, and the Doctor tells him to piss off basically. Wow. Tearjerker materials, guys.

Further disappointed when, after the Doctor leaves, those of us in the audience who AREN'T as big a manically cynical b'stard as Nick Briggs are also prohibited from sharing the dream with a complete pointless epilogue showing the Daleks regressing and blowing up the whole planet. Yes. Very satisfying.

At this point I feel the need to say that I really did enjoy the story for its brilliant use of Charley (as Alan Barnes always does), its strong characters and its madcap ideas**, along with the simple pleasure of Colin Baker as a singing Dalek. But, once again, Nick Briggs has shown his incredible skill of making me not 100% satisfied with a story he's produced at the end of the day.

*

The sort of thing that you're missing out on by living in the city: picking up a dead chicken, taking care not to cause it to fall apart and not to anger the swarm of maggots therein, carry it up a hill, rake a pile of compost over it, drag over a tarpaulin covered with cow manure and raking that on top. All in a day's work.


*There's been no word at all about a second series of Jekyll, from ANYONE, but I've noticed 'fans' (for want of a better word for the inebriated half-wits who talk about it online despite not understanding a fucking word of the show) keep banging on about it. Ahem. It's not going to happen! Or at least, it never should, under any circumstance. The story has been told. If people have a positive outlook like myself and believe that Sarah Klein is just bitter after being unable to destroy her own darkside and that Jackman HAS won, the story is over. If they think Sarah Klein is telling the truth... erm, what's the point? It's equally final. Hyde wins, end of story. That's the trouble with a nihilistic viewpoint. It can only end with a whole lot of nothing.

**Alan Barnes says it best - "Nation always had a gimmick for his Dalek stories - in Planet they were invisible, Death they didn't have their guns... so I sat down and wrote up my ideas for interesting things to happen to the Daleks. I ended up with 'Daleks think that they aren't Daleks', 'Daleks are on drugs', and 'Daleks become communist'. And I did all three."