FROM HER TO MOD-ERNITY – MY WEEKLY REVIEW BY PAUL LAIGHT
Here’s a written round-up of some of the stuff I’ve been watching, tele-viewing, cinema-going, generally experiencing, listening too, visiting in the last few weeks or so.
ALTERNATIVE COMEDY EXPERIENCE – COMEDY CENTRAL
Pedant-king and all-round comedy god Stewart Lee picks the acts and overlords the 2nd season of The Alternative Comedy Experience. It features many comedians arguably TOO off-mainstream, surreal, political or whimsical to be considered for a show such as Live At The Apollo; yet, there are mostly wonderful comedians on view.
I winged through the whole season pretty quick and my favourites included: Stephen Carlin, Bridget Christie, Michael Legge, Tony Law, Paul Foot, David O’Doherty to name but a few. Lee himself only appears in interview form but it’s a fine showcase for some of the more alternative comedy minds on the circuit.
DR WHO – CATCH-UPS
The Horror Channel – SKY CHANNEL 319 – often shows some questionably poor films but it also shows some classic Dr Who’s from yesteryear. I’ve watched a couple of the TOM BAKER stories — HORROR AT FANG ROCK and CITY OF DEATH – and maybe it’s nostalgia for my youth but I think he IS the perfect Doctor: manic, emotion, performance, eccentric, dark, yet funny too. And that booming voice has real authority. He just makes everything – however far fetched – seem so real believable. His delivery is Shakespearean.
Having watched all of Eccleston and Tennant’s episodes recently I’m now onto the youngest Doctor ever – Matt Smith! The stories are great and while his assistant Amy is bland yet lovely, I’m warming to Smith. He’s like an excitable Tigger on speed with a quirky energy and a hint of darkness. I want to see him really go dark the way Eccleston did at times but in the episode AMY’S CHOICE we got a hint of a darker side in the form of the Dream-Lord played by fine actor Toby Jones so I look forward to more of that element in future, past or present episodes. Also, I loved the VINCENT AND THE DOCTOR episode in which the Doctor meets Van Gogh; artistry, depression and a beastly blind being is hellbent on destruction in a very touching episode written by Richard Curtis.
DRAYTON MANOR THEME PARK
Me and my son Rhys (13) love going to theme parks. My motion sickness seems to be getting worse but I braved the 130 mile journey and drove to Drayton Manor near Tamworth in the hope of holding my breakfast down. It was an overcast but occasionally sunny day and thankfully off-peak so we avoided legions of people and massive queues for the rides. It was a fun day out and we went on most of the rides and visited the zoo they have there. It’s no Thorpe Park or Alton Towers but it’s still a great place to visit. While my stomach turned over a number of times I kept my lunch down so a winning day all-round.
Denzil Washington is probably the best movie actor around as he has a knack of turning average scripts into something very watchable and this is no different. I can see why he was attracted to the character of Robert McCall as he is a Robin Hood type who uses his special training to assist those in the neighbourhood and eventually turns his brutal killing abilities to something more global.
This is nowhere near as good as the Fuqua/Washington double-teamed Training Day (2001) for which the actor received the Oscar for Best Actor or the equally brutal Man On Fire (2004) which is something of an underrated classic in my view but while instantly forgettable it’s still unashamedly entertaining and had me gripped throughout the slightly overlong running time.
Spike Jonze eccentric “love” story follows a similar path story-speaking to an episode of Big Bang Theory I saw where Raj fell in love with Siri his Iphone voice system. Of course, Jonze develops the theme of technological romance further over the running time with a beautiful, funny and at times very human dramedy. Indeed, while many people reach for the Internet to find “love” either through pornography or online dating the brilliantly named Theodore Twombly actually falls FOR his computer itself.
I loved everything about the film: the look, cast, design, direction, performances and above all else the cute and always surprising screenplay. Joaquin Phoenix is full of hangdog desperation at the break-up of his marriage and subsequent loneliness. Scarlett Johansson provides the alluring voice of the “Operating System” he reaches out for as their relationship takes some surprising turns. It’s a perfect “first world” piece of cinema which charmed me and almost melted my icy heart.
NATIONAL MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM
My son Rhys has expressed an interest in motorbikes recently and as we were in the Midlands I thought why not check this place out — in Solihull — on the way back to London. It’s a wonderful place if you love motorbikes with hundreds and hundreds of two-wheelers from the earliest days of industry to the modern age. I’m not a petrol-head myself but I was impressed by the array of different bikes on show and felt proud that the country I came from had produced so many beautiful machines and many which had served us during the wars and set many a world speed record. My son was disappointed there were no Harley Davidsons on show so I reminded him in was a “National” and not and “International” museum. Kids eh!?!
OLD BOY (2013)
Overall, it’s not bad entertainment but if you haven’t seen the original then do watch Park Chan Wook’s classic instead. While Josh Brolin in the lead is great Sharlto Copley’s ridiculous English accent ruins much of the tension in the latter part of the film.
It’s still a great story of a dislikeable guy imprisoned against his will and much of the power in the story derives from the mystery of not knowing why he is held captive. The first half of the OLDBOY (2013) remake directed by Spike Lee was pretty decent but the 2nd half seemed as if it was cut to pieces ensuring loss of dramatic impact during the sick twists at the end. It’s slick and a bit silly but the original remains an utter classic of World Cinema. WATCH THAT INSTEAD!
SPURS LATEST (up to 22/10/14)
After Spurs scrapped to a 1-1 derby draw with Arsenal in the Premier League I went to see them play Besiktas at White Hart Lane in the Europa League. Harry Kane put us a goal up but Besiktas did well and only some fine saves from Hugo Lloris kept them at bay. To be honest the Turkish team were the better side in the 2nd half. Indeed, they grabbed a penalty equalizer after a silly handball from Chiriches. Ba made is 1-1.
Spurs have since been defeated by Manchester City in a game which had 4 penalties – two of which were missed by Soldado and Aguero. The Argentinian did however, score the four goals which put us to the sword. The referee was a disgrace really with some dodgy decisions and while we played okay in patches we were outclassed really. I have low expectation of this season but can see glimpses of what the new manager is trying to achieve so we will see what the season brings us.
I suffer from arrested development where music is concerned. I have very specific rock and roll roots on the whole and my favourite kind of music is what some might say is 80s/90s/00s “indie” rock. I do like a bit of rap, heavier rock, dance, electro stuff too though. I do listen to new music but I’m firmly entrenched in my preferred genre and only occasionally does a new band capture my imagination.
My new favourite musical thing is SLEAFORD MODS. A Nottingham-based duo who combine sparse keyboards, drum loops and angry, yet humourous, lyrics spat out from the mouth of Jason Williamson. He is an authentic Midland council estate voice (reminiscent of Mark E. Smith) who rants against media phoneys, social media and delivers poetic rhymes about everyday struggle. Before the Arctic Monkeys became hipster pricks I had great hopes for them. I doubt Sleaford Mods go the same way and become complete Camden cunts. Check out Divide and Exit – it’s a brisk-sweary-real-down-to-earth-shopping-trolley-in-a-canal-treat.