For one reason and another, I’ve been watching a lot of films recently. Here are the most recent half dozen, in the order I watched them, with brief comments on each. I have to say it’s been a good run: I really enjoyed all six.
A genuinely excellent film, though as always with all-time classics not quite as good as its reputation would lead you to think. Much hangs on the raw charisma of Humphrey Bogart (as Rick) and Ingrid Bergman (as Ilsa); Paul Henreid as Victor Laszlo radiates all the charisma of formica, but it doesn’t really matter because it’s kind of the point that Rick and Ilsa are magnetically attracted but she is bound to Victor.
A while back, I read a tweet that said something like “Rick and Morty has more ideas in a single episode than most series do in a whole season”. (I wish I could find that tweet, but I can’t.) [UPDATE! Chris R found it, and here it is!]
That claim caught my imagination, so I watched the first season. You should watch it, too.
Saga of the Swamp Thing — Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Toteben
I re-read this as part of my Alan Moore phase — following on from his Watchmen and Complete Future Shocks, and Andrew Rilstone’s Who Sent The Sentinels?, last time. It’s a fascinating read, having more in common with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics than with Moore’s usual work, with its dependence on supernatural themes and general feeling of being more horror than fantasy.
Swamp Thing had been a moderately successful DC Comics character from 1972 and 1976. Continue reading
The Good Life is the archetypal 1970s British sitcom: a pleasant story about likeable people doing nice things. The story is negligible. (90% of it happens in the first episode, where Tom quits his job on his 40th birthday to go self-sufficient with his wife, Barbara.) When there is conflict, it’s quickly resolved.
Cast of The Good Life. Left: Tom and Barbara Good (played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall). Right: Jerry and Margo Leadbetter (played by Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith).
So it ought to be dismissable fluff; and in a way, it is. But it’s delightful dismissable fluff, and that makes it very easy watching.
I watched the first episode of this program tonight. Verdict: disappointing. It’s clear that Blumenthal truly is an extraordinary chef, and must have unique and valuable insights into how cookery works; but In Search of Perfection doesn’t tell us what they are.
In the first episode, he cooks bangers and mash (followed by treacle tart). There is a lot of messing about visiting pig farms and suchlike before we get down to business. He makes his own sausages by what seems a ludicrously over-complex method that involves toast stock. There is lot going on; but we never find out why any of it is going on.
Don’t bother. It’s rubbish.
It’s like someone in late 1992 thought “What if we made a film like Wayne’s World, but with all the charm boiled out of it and the lead character made into an entitled jerk?”, then slipped through a time vortex back to 1986 and made it.
(Admittedly, a more parsimonious explanation would that someone in the early 1990s thought “What if we made a film like Ferris Bueller but with wit, charm and all-round good-nature?”, since that doesn’t involve time travel.)
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ self-contained twelve-issue comic Watchmen was released by DC Comics in 1986-1987, though it takes place in a completely separate fictional universe from their mainline characters. It’s been pretty universally praised since its release, but was considered “unfilmable” for a long time, having been so described both by its writer Alan Moore and by putative director Terry Gilliam.
So it proved through a long series of failed attempts to make a film version. But it was finally done in 2009, in a film directed by Zack Snyder and featuring a mostly unknown cast — an excellent decision to my mind. The last thing we needed was be constantly thinking “Oh, look, Johnny Depp” when we should be seeing The Comedian.