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I added some new people to the reading list. This is because I am bored and want interesting things to read. Six days to go and I am back at work. I cannot wait. Feel at liberty to roll your eyes and call me sad. I am sad. I need structure.

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I watched the new Law & Order: UK tonight. It's very slickly done. They've kept a lot of the stylistic tics of the original, including the music stings and the time/place captions. It looked good -- grainy, hand-held camera but not to vomit-inducing levels -- and the casting is excellent.

Aside from Jamie Bamber and Freema Agyeman, who are terribly pretty and the main reasons for two fandoms taking a squint at the show, there's Ben Daniels, whose voice is brain-melting; and Bradley Walsh, who has excellent comic timing and whose acting I like very much, even though his range is narrow.

Fandom failed to tell me that Harriet Walter and Bill Paterson were slumming it among the six leads, for which you all must die, obviously.

So far, so good, right? Alas, no. The script, directly adapted from an original script from the US version, was mechanical and awkward and did not take much account of the differences between the US and UK law systems. For example, I don't know whether district attorneys investigate crimes, but I was under the impression that the Crown Prosecution Service didn't have time for that, being chronically underfunded and also lawyers.

Worse still was that it was totally tone-deaf.
Chibnall was the head writer for Torchwood. The fact that he was sticking to a script already written helped with his hideous, sexist, clueless plotting but the script he wrote didn't sound like people talking in London. It was as though he put the American script through some kind of Brit Babelfish. The actors did their best with pseudo hard-boiled dialogue but they can only fight so hard.

I am not sure that starting a new series with a story about how the London property market breeds ruthless landlords was the brightest idea, given that the London property market is in freefall. It's been dipping for almost a year now. The rental market collapsed before the property market went into freefall. It's part of the reason it did. The script's sheer obliviousness to the credit crunch rendered it a bit ridiculous: it's not as though they filmed all this years ago.

I strongly suspect that for this show to be a continuing success, they're going to have to move in the direction of The Bill and put a bit of soap about the characters in there. However, I could be misreading the appetites of the Great British public.

I'll watch next week. People are pretty and act well and brain does not need to be engaged. Also, I would listen to Ben Daniels read the phone book.

* * *
Today's enthusiasm, in honour of the Oscars, is the films of Danny Boyle. I loved Slumdog Millionaire, slight though it was, because of the fantastic direction, full of kinetic energy and colour, and the performances he and his Indian co-director, Loveleen Tandan, pulled from the actors. He always seems to manage to do both of these things and he switches genres.

Like most people, the first time I remember seeing Danny Boyle is Shallow Grave, his effortlessly stylish film about murderous flatmates in Edinburgh. Trainspotting followed and was even more pyrotechnically exciting. There's a wonderful piece here by Simon Reynolds about how Boyle's film fails, which I recommend to you as excellent brain food.

After Trainspotting, Boyle and his cohorts, John Hodge, Andrew MacDonald (and, I suppose, Alex Garland), went a bit Hollywood and made A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach, neither of which worked as well as they should, but here's the thing about Boyle: even his failures have interesting things to recommend them, whether it's playing with reality or unexpected harshness.

However, three of Boyle's later films really showed what he could do. 28 Days Later was among the first films to be shot on digital video and is an exciting, frightening horror film, with an eerie empty London. Two bonus links:
Simon Pegg on why proper zombies don't run
28 Days Later on the Zombie Survival & Defense Wiki. Listed just because how marvellous is it that there is a Wiki for surviving zombie attacks?

Millions is a film that not many people have heard of. It's a sweet, imaginative and occasionally surreal family film about two young brothers who have just lost their mother. The older brother has become harder, the younger brother is obsessed by the lives of the saints. They find bags of stolen pounds just as the UK switches to the euro and clash over what to do with it. Damian wants to do charitable works, Anthony wants to spend, spend, spend. It was written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who later adapted it into a Carnegie medal-winning book. Seek it out if you get the chance.

If you haven't seen it yet, I'd also recommend hiring Sunshine which is a proper, non-ironic science fiction film. It loses its way in the final third when it moves from gorgeous meditation on our place in the universe to slasher flick, but it's worth seeing for a slew of good performances and some truly stunning visuals.

LINKS: Millions trailer | A vid of Sunshine, set to Explosions in the Sky | Scary empty London

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* * *
I cleaned out the downstairs cupboard today, which has not been done for 18 months. Went for a bath and when I got out there was a fuckoff massive cockroach on the kitchen floor. Which I SLEW with my mighty kitchen tissue obviously. I am now going to be seeing cockroaches out of the corner of my eye for the next year. I am so hacked off.

* * *
The five words meme. vivwiley gave me the following words

1. Travel I haven't done nearly enough of this. I've been to most of Europe, Australia, Japan and lots and lots of the US but, aside from Japan (and Poland, and thereby hangs a story) it's almost all been within my comfort zone. I think I want to go to India next.

2. iPod A thing which has changed my life. When I was in my teens my dad was unemployed for a long time, measured in years, and we were a bit skint so I didn't have a walkman or anything, but I did have the 40cm long stereo I listened to everything on and I used to carry it everywhere, along with a bunch of tapes. Thank God for the iPod, which holds all my pirated Radio4 shows, and the 50% of my music that I actually listen to, and thus saves me from serious back injury. I was a very early adopter and I don't put video on mine.

3. Books I've almost stopped reading in comparison to my self of about five years ago and that makes me sad. I still buy books though, which is nuts. I love reading book reviews on LJ. I do not love watching authors make arses of themselves on LJ very much though.

4. Theatre I had planned to spend a lot of my current time off going to the theatre but instead I have been sensible and saved money. Feh. The thing is, as decent tickets set you back an average of twenty quid and often more, people are reluctant to take a chance on new plays. You end up going by reviews of people whose tastes might mesh with yours. I've seen two plays I really disliked in the West End in the past two years: Tom Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll, which was an inert, dead thing, badly played by the female lead (the two male leads, particularly Dominic West, were very good); and Elling, which wandered pointlessly and wasn't funny, despite John Simm's best efforts.

5. Kindness The single most important virtue. There are plenty of people who are nice but fewer who are kind. Nice is worthless. I aspire to be kind, just as lots of you are. Don't manage it always.



( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:21 am (UTC)
I wonder how many of feel like we've done enough travel. I'm interested by your observation of staying in your comfort zone. I wonder about that for myself sometimes. Good for thought as I think about venturing forth in the future.

I'm very much with you on the importance of kindness. It is a very hard thing to practice. But, as you note - something to which to aspire (and something clearly not being exercise, along with decency and/or any sort of common sense by the idjits who are complaining about that children's TV host!).

Good luck hanging on for those last six days!
Feb. 24th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
On the one hand, I dread being one of those people who says "I'm not a tourist, I'm a traveller" and references countries by how poor the population was and therefore how much beer they could buy for a dollar or the gastro-intestinal complaints they suffered while there. On the other, I would like to see some parts of the world which are not either western or rich. So yeah, I have no answers there. You seem to have travelled pretty widely though. Has it all been within your comfort zone?
Feb. 26th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
Tourists versus travellers
I've been pondering your question about whether all my travels have been within my comfort zone for a few days now. I'm not sure what it means that I couldn't immediately tell you "yes or no" - except maybe that my brain is pretty tired these days.

I finally came to the following semi-conclusions:
1) My "comfort zone" is probably a bit wider than most people's; a by-product of being raised by parents who were tourists, travellers and adventurers all in one, (I mean - they drove across Morocco, with very out-dated maps, in 1962!), and who treated travel as though it were a part of life like eating or breathing.

2) That said, most of my travels have been within my comfort zone, although some have pushed those boundaries a bit more than others. And, the more I travel, the more I believe that most travel obstacles are ultimately survivable/over-comeable (if that is a word).

3) Oddly, some of my most uncomfortable trips have been business trips - most when I was AmeriCorps, and conducting site visits that had me hurling myself off to Kansas without decent maps, or cell phone; or meeting people in pretty dicey neighborhoods without clear directions.

4) I have yet to travel really extensively to parts of the world that are poor and/or non-western. Some of that is because so much of my personal travel is on my own and I am somewhat cautious about being a single woman traveler in some parts of the world. When I have (e.g., Egypt) I have bought myself a zone of comfort by doing things like being part of a formal tour.

I doubt I'll ever be the type to hitchhike across Brazil or some such. But - I am really interested in pushing out to new continents and areas AND I have the enviable privilege of several friends in the US Foreign Service who get posted in interesting places so that I can go visit.

So - not that you really care any longer, but there are my rambling thoughts.
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC)
I do love me some Shallow Grave. It does NOT fail! It WINS.

I can't believe you want to go back to work. You're mental.
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
Oh, and I will do the five things you sent me, when my computer is back. Yay driving! Driving with infinitemonkeys even!
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
I know. But structure! Rules! having to get out of bed!
Feb. 24th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
I think you are very very kind. I've always thought that of you.
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
It's lovely of you to say so.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
I completely understand that and do not think it at all weird. The sleep thing couldn't help. With me, it's more that it exacerbates my tendency to let things drift and reminds me how useless I am at time management.
Feb. 24th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
OMG that link! People suck!

As for cockroaches, I am AGAINST THEM. Remind me to tell you the story of the first place I lived in in Maryland. Ewwww.
Feb. 24th, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)
They really, really do. As do cockroaches, and I'd love to hear the story of Maryland, though perhaps only when I have time to shiver and rock back and forth in a stupor of disgust
Feb. 24th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
I really respect Danny Boyle for genre-hopping so much! Slumdog is the movie of his I love the most, I think; the others I generally like but can't get totally into. I saw Shallow Grave recently, and while I thought it was well done, GOD did it make me feel dirty. I saw Trainspotting years ago and didn't get it; it's sitting on the DVR now. As is Millions. I liked 28 Days Later but thought it was overhyped, and I agree with you and most everyone else on Sunshine. It's so awesomely wonderful until that final third where it all goes haywire.
Feb. 24th, 2009 10:52 am (UTC)
I think that if you like Slumdog Millionaire, you might like Millions. It plays similar story-telling tricks. As for Trainspotting, I loved it instantly but that might be because it captured a lot of what I liked about the book, and it hit me at just the right age.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 24th, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
You're right. I wonder how successful it can be working with pure plot; isn't it the tradition of our telly to be more character-based than that? Even The Bill and Casualty, way back when I watched them, seemed to have more character plots going on. I suppose it depends how slavishly they're sticking to the original scripts.
Feb. 25th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
That link made my head fall off and explode.
Feb. 25th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
I was going to ask which one, then I remembered the link of hopeless fail and agreed with you. On the plus side, 95% of the replies and coverage have been of the "WTF is wrong with you?" variety so I have some hope for Britain.
Mar. 10th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
I used to be something of an iPod snob. "Oh, yes, another gadget. Another thing to make people look dumb when they're walking down the street."

Then I got one for Christmas back in 2006. Now I almost always listen to music on it. And I haven't bought a new CD since then. Technology, once again, has struck me down.

Oh, and I just want to say that Freema Ageyman is the prettiest face seen on Doctor Who since Mary Tamm. That is all.
Mar. 11th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
Hello. I think I know you but I would fail to put a name to you right now. However you should know that I will be doing an exhaustive investigation of idiolects very soon. Or, you know, *not*. Feel free to introduce yourself in email if you wish, but if you don't, fair enough.

I buy CDs because I like *things* with booklets which look pretty on my shelf and mean that I don't need to buy as many pictures for my walls. Somehow iTunes downloads are much too ephemeral and easy. I miss the days when if you wanted an obscure record, it meant weeks of hunting in indie record shops and maybe ordering it. None of this "press a button and it arrives" bollocks. I am an old fart. With two iPods.

Freema Agyeman is stunningly pretty, even on Law & Order. Unlike some people on telly, though, she doesn't make me doubt my Kinsey placement, I just find her very aesthetically lovely. (She also seems to be a thoroughly good sort -- I've heard this from people who know her from their church)
Mar. 11th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
"I miss the days when if you wanted an obscure record, it meant weeks of hunting in indie record shops and maybe ordering it."

And I miss the days when movies used models and not CGI. I miss computer games that didn't require a hundred million dollars to manufacture. I miss watching the hit films and actually enjoying them.

A hard thing, getting old.
Mar. 11th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
It's not so much the CGI as th fact that the CGI is used as a shortcut for people who lack imagination and a good script. Just because you *can* build it so people can see it doesn't mean that you should.

I enjoyed three of the five Oscar-nominated best picture nominees this year, which is better than usual.

ETA: And hello. I've got it now. Welcome back. You were missed. I might not have said much but I was always reading.

Edited at 2009-03-11 10:54 pm (UTC)
Mar. 12th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
Oh, I was just getting around to send you an e-mail. But...hi!

Like I said, I've started the journal again for therapy purposes, but I do appreciate the reading.

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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