02/10/2022

Review - Titans Season Three Eps 5 to 8

 Context is everything of course and albeit a tad late here we find out exactly what’s been going on with Jason in the excellent `Lazarus`. Arguably this would have made a great second episode even if it took way the shock of him seeming to die which was taken away in the actual second episode in any case. Essentially a four handed episode without any of the other Titans and an excellent script from Bryan Edward Hill unfurls a story of a boy trying to impress his mentor who in turns is doing his best to stop the kid getting into any more trouble. It reverses the arguments of episode one which painted Bruce as uncaring- as Dick saw him and accused him of- to reveal exactly the opposite. Stung by how his time as Robin damaged Dick, he is determined not to repeat the mistakes with Jason. The latter though, still traumatised by what happened to him in season two, thinks Bruce is trying to protect him because he’s weak and wants to show otherwise hence his attempt to confront the Joker. It’s a potent brew that bubbles constantly and includes some of the best scenes the series has so hitherto played.



29/09/2022

(Retro) Review round up: Avatar (2009), Best of Bowie (2002), The Warlord (1998)

 

Somehow, I had not seen Avatar in the thirteen years since its release neither do I really know that much about it which is curious for such a popular movie. So just before the sequel is released Avatar is back in cinemas and so I finally got to see it this week. While the digital effects look more commonplace now than they would have done in 2009 this only serves to enhance the urgency of the story. An allegory for colonialism in the past and imperialism today as well as ecological issues the subject matter is unfortunately just as relevant if not more so in 2022 even though it is set two centuries from now. There is a righteous anger that permeates the movie especially after we spend an extended period exploring the world of Pandora. It’s a beautiful planet full of jaw droppingly exotic creatures yet also the source of a much sought-after mineral. Tasked with getting to know the native Na’vi in order to persuade them to move, paralysed marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) becomes an `avatar` inhabiting a full size genetically produced Na’vi which he controls while asleep in a tank. However, he is working to double agendas. While ostensibly helping a team led by Doctor Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) to further the scientific knowledge of the planet, he’s also tasked with deadlines by the hawkish General Quaritch (Stephen Lang). Inevitably these priorities clash when Sully falls in love with the planet and with the Na’vi girl Netyri (Zoe Saldana) who shows him it’s wonders.



27/09/2022

Top of the Pops 27 Aug and 3 Sept 1987

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. 
27/08/87
Gary Davies: “Hi, good evening. I hope you're well. We have a superb show for you tonight. In the studio we've got Wet Wet Wet, we've got Black, we've got T'Pau, we've got Rick Astley but first we start with a mega-band at number twenty three, Then Jerico, The Motive.

 [23] THEN JERICO: the motive. A mega-band? I vaguely remember them. The song is pleasant enough but I spend most of the performance worrying why the guitar player has a jumper wrapped round his shoulders when he's already wearing a jumper? Also, shouldn't it be spelt “Jericho”? BBC camera operators can be spotted in action as the first chorus kicks in. There's a wide camera shot of the stage which slowly pans round from stage left to the front. At the extreme left of the picture there's a hand held camera operator in a blue shirt who dashes along the front of the stage to change position. His camera cable nearly gets snagged on the head of another operator who is there capturing profile shots of lead singer Mark Shaw.

“Their first appearance on Top of the Pops,” says Gary Davies, “but be sure it's not going to be their last.” He's right. Then Jeric(h)o will pop back eighteen months in the future to perform Big Arena on an edition hosted by Gary Davies and... Anthea Turner? Oh no. Stop the world I want to get off.

 


25/09/2022

Film Review- Moonage Daydream

 

Great clips- shame about the presentation

The only likely way anyone could satisfactorily encompass the length and breadth of David Bowie’s career is a ten- part documentary series. Moonage Daydream is a two and a quarter hour long montage of some of his best bits albeit with notable omissions. The clips are great and like many a modern documentary you wish we could just watch them in the best quality possible but as ever we have a director with some ideas of his own. Brett Morgen appears to have been inspired by Bowie’s own preference for cut up imagery, mixing and matching material to create something new. It worked so well for the singer, less so when it comes to a film about him. The results are a bit of a cheat- yes you get to see some rare footage but you also have to sit through increasingly irritating visual gimmickry that makes even the `Little Wonder` video seems normal. I suppose you could say that it is an achievement to make Bowie seem less interesting than he was!

 


23/09/2022

Review - Titans Season Three Eps 1 - 4

 First shown a year ago, season three finds the series re-locating to Gotham

One of the more fascinating aspects of US episodic shows is their ability to morph into something different. Ostensibly a series about some super heroes ought to be repetitive and focussed mostly  on action but the season three opener Barbara Gordon, shoehorns most of its fight scenes into the opening section.  Now back in Gotham and Robin once again, Jason remains as hot headed as ever plus he appears to have cooked up some sort of mega inhaler of yellow stuff. Yet for all his bravado in defying Batman to confront the Joker, he falls woefully short. Flinching from the first body he finds and some manic laughter he’s easily taken down and, it seems, killed by the villain whom we only see in silhouette. This contrast vividly with the very cool re-introduction of the Titans as they take out another villainous brigade with supple skills all to the soundtrack of `Ca Plane Pour Moi`. It’s a great sequence, perfectly directed and edited. As a season opener you couldn’t ask for more.

 


19/09/2022

The Queen's Funeral

 

Pomp meets circumstance

We're watching and making history all the time of course, in small ways, and sometimes bigger ones. These past six years we’ve been privy to rather more history than most people get what with Brexit, Covid and a seemingly endless cycle of recessions. So, the death of a Queen, however long lived, may appear to be a smaller affair. Not a bit of it. Even the television coverage of Covid did stop sometimes for other matters but ever since Queen Elizabeth the second passed away BBC and ITV have had virtually non stop Royal programming. If you really wanted to you could even watch a live stream of the lying in state of the coffin, surely of all things this is something that if you wanted to see it the preference would be to actually attend? The big day though was today. Why is it even in this blog, you're asking? Simply because it is the largest event any of us are likely to see this year.





16/09/2022

Top of the Pops 20 August 1987

 

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: “Hello!! Good evening and welcome to another Top of the Pops!! I'm the one who's not pregnant!! This is the one who is!!”

Janice Long: “Lots and lots of things to get in tonight. We've got Sinitta. We've got Spagna coming on the show. Bon Jovi are here. Loads and loads of stuff and this is Wax. They are Building A Bridge.”

[20] WAX: bridge to your heart. The keyboard player is doing more than 50% of the work in this two - person band. He plays the keyboard, obviously, but he also plays the saxophone and does all the singing. He's also found time to work out little illustrative hand gestures to match the lyrics. On the line “I don't know what the future's going to be,” he looks all around with one hand shading his eyes. When he sings, “written guarantee,” he makes a signing-the-cheque motion. The other bloke doesn't bring anything to the group except guitar playing, vocal counterpoint, and a faint resemblance to Howard Stableford from Tomorrow's World. (John- The keyboard player is the genius Andrew Gold, multi- instrumentalist, producer, singer -`Lonely Boy`, `Never Let Her Slip Away`-and the son of Marnie Nixon who used to secretly provide the singing for actors such as Natalie Wood in West Side Story. The guitarist is Graham Gouldman from 10cc)



13/09/2022

Film Review: a-ha The Movie

 

Documentary shows the serious men behind a-ha’s skyscraping music

Given how majestic and serious a-ha’s music often seems it’s no surprise to discover it’s creators were serious young men back in the day and now over thirty five years later they are serious older men! It’s possible there were moments of unbridled joy during the band’s imperial period – there is definitely smiling and laughing in the old clips- but this interesting documentary suggests the trio have spent much of their career getting on each other’s nerves. That is when they’re not liking the band as a whole.