(1) Recent media in brief:
• Hot Fuzz is the new film by Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, the team behind the glorious Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, which made me laugh like a nutcase and cry in the space of an hour, so they'd earned a good deal of slack. Hot Fuzz is a loving parody of action films, with just enough Hammer House of Horror splashed in to make it reminiscent of SotD *and* The Wicker Man. If you love stupid action movies and I do, you'll pick up about a million references, subtle and otherwise. Bad Boys, Point Break and, in one particularly bizarre and funny scene William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet are referenced explicitly. There are also quotes from and references to Shaun of the Dead, The Omen and Chinatown. Fanboy paradise.
I wanted to love it a lot more than I did but I suspect that my problem was that it wasn't enough like SotD when I wanted it to be. One of the joys of SoTD was the relationship between Shaun and Ed, whereas that kind of rapport is only available later in Hot Fuzz, when Nick Angel has removed the giant plank wedged up his back passage. It has most of the wonderful comic actors in Britain in it in various parts and when it gets going it is funny. I want to see it again so that I can pick up all the jokes, and work out whether I was slightly disappointed because it isn't as good or because it isn't what I wanted it to be or because the thing about Shaun of the Dead was that it was this small cult thing that grew and grew and you had the feeling of being in on this fantastic secret if, like me, you went to see it the week it came out.
• My new favourite album is by Scott Matthews and it's called Passing Stranger. It is like the lovechild of Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake if conceived on an Indian ashram, born in Wolverhampton and raised on a diet of vegetable korma and mango lassi. You remember that time when I said about this band I loved who were called Snow Patrol and ::crickets:: ensued? (Not that I am mad keen on them now but I loved their earlier stuff that was a bit weirder) Or when I sent people disks of Thea Gilmore's Rules for Jokers and everyone was all rolly-eyed "whatever, she's off on one again" then Neil Gaiman mentions her on his blog and suddenly everyone's all "there's always been a Thea Gilmore element to my music collection". Or my Tom McRae howling in the wilderness post, then six months later he's touring the US and he's LJ's Jesus of cool all of a sudden? Not that I am bitter or anything. *g*
And there was that whole embarrassing James Blunt incident and I *apologise*. But I am *right* about this one. This is a good album, particularly if you like Nick Drake. Here's a sample:
The Fool's Fooling Himself
Buy the album. You won't regret it.
• I've been reading David Mitchell's output lately and recommend it very much. Ghostwritten is a set of nine interlinked stories roaming the world -- particularly Japan, China and Mongolia and reflecting different aspects of the title. I loved this book. It spins off out of control at the end a little, and doesn't hang together as well as it thinks it does but the writing is beautiful and inventive.
Cloud Atlas is more controlled but less engaging I found. It uses a similar narrative trick of telling different stories, this time spread from the early colonial period to the post-apocalyptic future. It's tremendously clever and interesting but harder to love than Ghostwritten. Nevertheless, I will read anything that Mitchell writes from now until he stops, just for the joy of his imagination.
(2) Many happy returns to christhetoken and copygirl. All the best for a lovely year to both of you
(3) predictivememo had this meme on her journal: 'Comment with the words "Top Ten" or "Top Five", and I will reply with a subject for which you will generate a top ten (or top five) list. Post the list and instructions in your own journal.'
And added the wrinkle that you could suggest topics of your own. If anyone would care to play please go ahead, it would be fun for me, at least.
Anyway, from her My Top 10 British Films of All Time
(1) Brazil One of my all-time favourites and with its meditations on paranoia, over-powerful states, plastic surgery and the terrible, commonplace nature of torture, possibly even more relevant today than it was when it was made.
(2) A Matter of Life and Death Glorious Powell and Pressburger fantasy that enchants every second of its length
(3) Passport to Pimlico An Ealing comedy about a poor part of London which decides to secede from Britain. Adorable.
(4) Kind Hearts and Coronets. This is such a fantastic script that I am amazed Hollywood hasn't ruined it by remaking it like they did with the godawful Wicker Man abortion. Alec Guinness plays about 10 members of the same family, all of whom are bumped off by a disgruntled relative with his eye on the title. One of the best films ever made anywhere.
(5) Shaun of the Dead For mixing romantic comedy and a serious zombie horror movie and doing both brilliantly
(6) Chariots of Fire Because which person of my age didn't do the slow motion running thing while singing ::do-o-o-o-ong, boom-ca-chikk-ah-ah-ah:: as a kid? It's a stirring film too
(7) Children of Men Yes, I liked it that much. Some of you may be interested in this: it's the showreel of the advertising, propaganda films and computer displays made for Children of Men by the media company Foreign Office here. I thought it was pretty smart anyhow.
(8) Trainspotting Again a great script performed with great energy and really well-directed by Danny Boyle. I want to see Sunshine just to see what he does with that scale of film
(9) Gregory's Girl It's adorable and funny
(10) Persuasion The Ciaran Hinds/ Amanda Root version. A fairly perfect adaptation of Austen, a little darker and more realistic that either Sense and Sensibility or either recent version of P&P. I love those adaptations but Persuasion is my favourite.