apolla: (Rock Chick)
In the days, weeks and years to follow, you'll hear a lot of stories about Amy Winehouse. Most everyone with a half-decent anecdote will inflict it upon the rest of us whether we want to hear it or not. This isn't new, and it's even understandable. Reflected glory (notoriety) is still glory (notoriety) after all. If you're very lucky, some of the stories might even be true.

I'm not going to tell my own Amy Story now, and I'm not going to pontificate about THE DANGERS OF DRUGS or THE DANGERS OF ALCOHOL or ROCK AND ROLL IS EVIL or any of that bollocks. This isn't even entirely about Amy, to be honest.

How many stories have you already read about The 27 Club? How many lazy journalists have drawn lines between Amy and that clutch of poor fuckers who died 1969-71, whose names we all know so well? I have a Google News Alert set up for Jim Morrison, and I get maybe one or two links a day. On Sunday morning I had rather more than that... because his name is being invoked in many of the Amy Stories. There's a thing on the BBC website which looks like it's almost entirely Copy Pasta from Wikipedia.

It's not fully clear what we're supposed to take from these stories. It never has been. Yes, quite a number of notable musicians died when they were 27 – but the moral 'they' want us to learn is unclear. Are we supposed to just take it as a straight-up tragedy of a dead young person? Or as some would say, are we supposed to learn from their mistakes? Are we supposed to condemn them as dirty junkie wastes of humanity? Are we supposed to laud them for living 'on the edge'? I guess it depends on what you're reading.

There are several problems with the live fast, die young myth. First off, it hurts all the people who love you. Second, you can't make any more music. Third, and maybe to me most important: you lose control over your work and self. You can't defend yourself.

I have never been in a physical fight with anyone, but I've come close several times, and most of those times were related to Jim Morrison. Once, there was a guy who told me that the best thing that ever happened to Jim was to die. He really believed it, too. Another time, a couple of years ago, there was a drunken twat at the London Film Festival screening of the latest Doors documentary. He was berating the quiet audience as we left (quiet largely because of what we'd just seen – the agonised and contrary life of a great artist), telling us that we should rip it up because 'Jim would want it' and basically taking only the hedonism from Jim's work and nothing else. I've had many moments of wanting to pummel people but that was the only time I actually considered doing it. All this because if he can't stand up for himself, then I will.

Dead people cannot sue for libel. Anyone can say basically anything they want about that person and they're untouchable. An 'author' in the 1980s accused Errol Flynn of being a Nazi spy during the Spanish Civil War. There was almost nothing to support this, and indeed most of what EF wrote at the time and later suggested he was left-leaning. Accusations like that stick, and even recently I saw an article which dredged it up again. Like Flynn was ever going to take time out of carousing for espionage! I could accuse Jimi Hendrix of selling nuclear weapons to Kafiristan, or say that Janis Joplin was planning to assassinate Richard Nixon, and there's nothing much to be done. Whether people believe it is a different matter, of course. I could say that Brian Jones was one of the most unpleasant human beings ever to make music and... well, that would be true, actually.

The problem is more than just plain ol' libel. The artist in question loses control of their reputation certainly, but they also lose control over the music itself, and how it is regarded. I recall a Popular Culture class in California where we discussed the image of Bob Marley before and after his death. Before his death he was presented (presumably with his consent to an extent) as a rebel, someone politically dangerous to the status quo. A fighter, if you like. Since his death, he has been largely repackaged as a poet, as a gentle thinker type – look at the album art for Legend. The danger has been removed and because he can't argue, it stays like that.

By a weird quirk of fate, I've been looking into Janis Joplin a little this weekend. I'm not a fan because I don't like her voice, although I would be lying if I suggested she wasn't good (same as Amy, actually). Now, I'd forgotten how massive she was back in the second half of the 1960s. Since her death she has been relegated – in the mainstream – to a cautionary tale, to an example of what happens to the wimminz when they try to live like the guys, to just another member of the rock dead. Example: those of you who aren't already Joplin fans, name me five Janis Joplin songs you've heard. In death, she lost control of her image, of her music. She has been somewhat airbrushed out of history – how many documentaries about that period of time in music really deal with her on a musical level? No, she's been half-forgotten as an artist and mostly remembered as a dead junkie bogeyman to scare the kids into behaving themselves.

Jim, on the other hand... actually, it's pretty much the same with him. He was someone who was fucking with the establishment before he died and since his death he has been reduced to just That Poster and a punchline to a joke about a fat guy dead in a bath. His death has given people the freedom to talk shit about him, to adapt him as they want, to lose all perspective. You might be able to tell that this is the one I care about... I still argue that the Doors are still 'dangerous' thanks to the music, but it must also be accepted that in dying, Jim handed over his power to the myth-makers and the detractors in equal measure.

I haven't really even mentioned the control they lose over the music itself. Do you really think Queen would've released Made in Heaven as it was, if Freddie had lived? Course not – there's tracks on that record which only saw the light of day because there wasn't anything else. A lot of it is to do with the record labels and marketing types, but it is also dependent on who gets control of the Estate. Tupac Shakur has had more music released post-mortem than in his lifetime – did he want it released, and in the mix/arrangement he wanted? We can't know. I'm not knocking Donal Gallagher for a second, but I don't think the recently released 'lost' album Notes from San Francisco by his brother, guitar god Rory, would've been the same record if your man had the choice. I mean, the vocals on 'Overnight Bag' are double-tracked! On a Rory Gallagher record! Would he have wanted that? We can't know for certain, although the fact he dropped the record in the bin is a clue... Without new material, the labels and the estates seek out what they can find to release, whether the artist considered it worth releasing or not. It's understandable, but we don't have to like it. We can only wait and see what will happen with Amy's music, depending on who gets control of it and how much unreleased material there is.

Dying ain't much of a living: maybe record sales sky-rocket, but there won't be new music. The Glorious Rock Dead are frozen in time, unable to fight their corner, unable to respond to attacks, unable to tell their adoring worshippers that they're fucking idiots. They hand those who hate them the freedom to tear them down. Sure, they leave behind good-looking corpses (theoretically) and remain forever young and beautiful... but it seems to me that there is more freedom in growing, developing... and even if they can't fully control what is said and thought about them, they can at least respond and defend themselves.

I don't know what the future holds for Winehouse's artistic reputation. As with the others I suspect it will become a tale of two images: super-artist beyond criticism on the one hand, drunk junkie who pissed it all away on the other. Both are true – to an extent – but the image of Amy now rests not with her but with marketing and record label executives. My money is on her being packaged as a 'Tragic Chanteuse' in the Billie Holiday/Edith Piaf mould. I also expect a shit, cookie-cutter biopic within a few years which will basically be La Vie En Rose in the 21st Century, Walk The Line without the happy ending, or The Doors without the American Indian.

There is nothing good about this 'club' of damaged people dying at 27, and the next person who says so about Morrison near me does run a very serious risk of injury. If he can't defend himself against both the haters and the acolytes, I will.

A Star Is Born

Saturday, 18 April 2009 19:42
apolla: (Default)
Until today, I had never seen A Star Is Born. Not the first version, not the Babs & Kris and not even the Garland-Mason version. The latter has been sat on a shelf here for probably three years, waiting in the Garland box set. I don't know why I never watched it before, and I can only surmise that it just felt like I never really felt I had to. I don't know why. I mean, it's got Judy, it's got Mason (whom I've always liked), it's got a massive reputation and it's about Hollywood. Seriously, it's the kind of thing I should always have leapt at but... I just never did.

Actually, I'm still watching it. I find it awfully slow - this is the restored and reconstructed version - and although I like it, I don't love it yet.

The main thing I thought so far is that Errol Flynn would've made a brilliant Norman Maine, except that by 1954 he was too dissipated and fucked to have been able to do it.

Also, I wonder if this story would work the other way around: Big Female Star marries Unknown Male and while he becomes a massive star, she goes into career decline. Would it happen the same way, I wonder? That said, I feel bitterly sorry for Norman already now that even the postman doesn't recognise/remember him. That must be a bitch of a feeling.

After all that, I do agree with Groucho: Grace Kelly winning an Oscar instead of Judy for this is the biggest robbery since Brinks. That said, seeing Judy Garland being all level-headed and easy to work with on set somehow doesn't quite work for me. It's too sad to see when I know the truth (partial, slightly mythical perhaps) of her movie career. I mean, if you choose to look, you can even see her Matt Perry-like weight gain and loss and back and forth within this one film. Maybe acting as someone like Esther-Vicki, down to earth and stuff, is her great achievement.

"What is it that makes him want to destroy himself?" Love, if we knew the answer to that, there'd be a lot of movie stars and musicians still alive. If we make the remark genderless, too...

"Love isn't enough." Girl, we already knew that.

God, this is a long fucking film. It makes Watchmen look like an hourlong drama.

A Star Is Born

Saturday, 18 April 2009 19:42
apolla: (Default)
Until today, I had never seen A Star Is Born. Not the first version, not the Babs & Kris and not even the Garland-Mason version. The latter has been sat on a shelf here for probably three years, waiting in the Garland box set. I don't know why I never watched it before, and I can only surmise that it just felt like I never really felt I had to. I don't know why. I mean, it's got Judy, it's got Mason (whom I've always liked), it's got a massive reputation and it's about Hollywood. Seriously, it's the kind of thing I should always have leapt at but... I just never did.

Actually, I'm still watching it. I find it awfully slow - this is the restored and reconstructed version - and although I like it, I don't love it yet.

The main thing I thought so far is that Errol Flynn would've made a brilliant Norman Maine, except that by 1954 he was too dissipated and fucked to have been able to do it.

Also, I wonder if this story would work the other way around: Big Female Star marries Unknown Male and while he becomes a massive star, she goes into career decline. Would it happen the same way, I wonder? That said, I feel bitterly sorry for Norman already now that even the postman doesn't recognise/remember him. That must be a bitch of a feeling.

After all that, I do agree with Groucho: Grace Kelly winning an Oscar instead of Judy for this is the biggest robbery since Brinks. That said, seeing Judy Garland being all level-headed and easy to work with on set somehow doesn't quite work for me. It's too sad to see when I know the truth (partial, slightly mythical perhaps) of her movie career. I mean, if you choose to look, you can even see her Matt Perry-like weight gain and loss and back and forth within this one film. Maybe acting as someone like Esther-Vicki, down to earth and stuff, is her great achievement.

"What is it that makes him want to destroy himself?" Love, if we knew the answer to that, there'd be a lot of movie stars and musicians still alive. If we make the remark genderless, too...

"Love isn't enough." Girl, we already knew that.

God, this is a long fucking film. It makes Watchmen look like an hourlong drama.
apolla: (Fleeen)
Like so many scribblings that turn up on this here blog, the following is actually the culmination of several different conversations and a few other odd little things.

I don't know how many people know this, I suppose anyone who knows me at all well, but for about a decade or so, I have had one hero who towers over most of the others in so many ways. Step forward, Errol Flynn. It is the centenary of his birth this year, a landmark I'd forgotten about until the other week.

During a mock exam for Theatre Studies in Year 13, I got bored and started reading My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Errol's autobiography, instead of writing my paper. It had a lot of the big allegations (and truths) removed back when it was published, and there's all sorts of things I wouldn't believe if I'd seen them. It also made no mention of his fifteen-year-old girlfriend beyond a dedication to "a small companion".

I had a conversation the other day about another actor who seems to me to differ from Flynn in only one respect: he's alive. If the internet gossip blogs are telling the truth (and sometimes they are, you know), he's probably Errol for the 21st Century, right down to the rumours of being fond of occasional manlove. He also features in action movies, though more shouty than swashbuckling, and though not quite so beautiful (who is?) I think he's sometimes almost as charming and charismatic on screen.

If he's the New Flynn, then I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him. I've loved Flynn for ten years or so, but it was, is and always will be, of the most absolute platonic sort, not because he's long-dead, but because I don't believe I could be in love with someone so completely unable to dedicate himself to one person, to love one person. There are things about Flynn that I dislike: the penchant for younger ladies, for one (if the internet is true, New Flynn just about fulfils this criterion too). The drugs for another (again the internet for New Flynn). I was never more disappointed in Flynn than when I saw a documentary and his daughter talked of his twenty/twenty-five year morphine addiction, though not because of the addiction. In My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn says he experimented, had a bad few weeks and was helped out of it by friends. It wasn't the drugs that made me cry, it was the fact that he'd lied. The reason I'd loved that man wasn't the legend, it was the way he had chosen a way to live and was unapologetic for it. He lived by his own rules and to the devil for anyone who wouldn't let him. That's what I loved and respected. And he lied just like everyone else, in the end.

I never felt sorry for him, this alcoholic, drug-addicted, serial shagger movie star, not ever. Even when I read between the lines of My Wicked Wicked Ways or read the actual lines in trash-biography books like Satan's Angel, I never felt sorry for him, because he had lived the way he wanted to. Then I saw My Favorite Year and another of my heroes, PETER O'TOOLEplayed a fellow called Alan Swann with such grace and pathos that I realised that for all his charm, charisma, beauty and outright wonder, Errol Flynn was ultimately a sad, pathetic little man just like the rest of us. He died as alone as the rest of us, for all the In Like Flynn escapades, for all his Cuban exploits, for all of his nose-thumbing to authority, Errol was like the rest of us. I could hardly bear the sorrow that day, although I've seen My Favorite Year many times since and of all the DVDs I've imported from America, it was the most important to me (Dancing Lady strangely low down the list!).

Still, the humanising of Errol Flynn has allowed me to see him with fresh eyes and I'm glad to say I love him no less. He is, and ever will be, the most beautiful man, I have ever seen. He makes Ben Barnes look like Sid James. Of all the movie stars I've seen grace the screen (ie, most of them), only Valentino has a power almost equal to Flynn's in terms of keeping one's gaze directed at him, and only him. I first saw The Adventures of Robin Hood on TCM and taped it off there before I got a copy of the video proper, and at one time I would arrive home from school, put the video straight on and watch it. Then rewind and watch again. I could probably quote the whole damn script given half a chance, and there are lines from it that will stay with me forever:

"Why, you speak treason!"
"Fluently."

I think that one, brief exchange between Maid Marian and Robin Hood is what pulled me in. Who else could've pulled off a line like that? When it first came out, I thought Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was OK. Not great, but I liked the legend itself so I watched it. I can't watch it anymore, not because of Costner's performance, or Slater's nonsense or the other awfulnesses, but because I've seen Flynn now and can't go back. If only we could transplant Rickman's Sheriff into the 'proper' film...

There's something knowing about every film Flynn did, so that even when you're watching some terrible films, Flynn lets you the audience know that he knows it's terrible too. I've seen awful films elevated to enjoyable by that alone. This was not a po-faced "WHAT DON'T YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?" method actor, and yet he possessed each of his characters quite completely. I loved that about him from the first scenes of Robin Hood through to this morning, when I finally saw The Master of Ballantrae on TCM. Ballantrae is a bad film, but even with his face ravaged by years of hard living, neglect and dissipation, Flynn is still a movie star and yes, my eyes still followed him so intently that I can hardly tell you what the guy playing his brother looked like. I'd hardly even have noticed Roger 'Colonel Blimp' Livesey if it weren't for the fact he was touting some terrible Oirish accent about with him. There is something about a man who had such a power even when his looks have mostly abandoned him.

So no, I really don't care what shit Flynn got up to during his eventful 50 years. I don't care if he murdered a native person in New Guinea and I don't care if he was boffing 15/16 year old girls (partly because I think they were probably more than keen). I happen to not believe the unsubstatiated rumours of him being a Nazi spy, mostly because he appears to me to be far more socialist than anything - he went to Cuba for the revolution, for God's sake! I don't care about any of it, not because I'm heartless, but because watching him in those films, all I see is that face and all I feel is the waves of charm rolling from the screen.

He wasn't as far as I can see a good man, but he was great in his way. He was unapologetic about the life he chose to life, and I don't suppose he regretted most of it. Time will tell if the New Flynn actually is the New Flynn, but I don't think I'll live to see anyone truly fulfil the same place in the world. After all, Pirates of the Caribbean managed to resurrect the swashbuckler, but the role Errol once took had to be split between two people: Depp and Bloom. Incidentally, he'd already taken part in parodying the form with The Adventures of Don Juan in '48.

He was a bastard who likely brought as much misery as joy to anyone who loved him at the time. I wouldn't have much liked being one of his wives, or children, but I love him. There's nothing you could tell me that could possibly change that, and that ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is pretty well the dictionary definition of a True Movie Star.
apolla: (Fleeen)
Like so many scribblings that turn up on this here blog, the following is actually the culmination of several different conversations and a few other odd little things.

I don't know how many people know this, I suppose anyone who knows me at all well, but for about a decade or so, I have had one hero who towers over most of the others in so many ways. Step forward, Errol Flynn. It is the centenary of his birth this year, a landmark I'd forgotten about until the other week.

During a mock exam for Theatre Studies in Year 13, I got bored and started reading My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Errol's autobiography, instead of writing my paper. It had a lot of the big allegations (and truths) removed back when it was published, and there's all sorts of things I wouldn't believe if I'd seen them. It also made no mention of his fifteen-year-old girlfriend beyond a dedication to "a small companion".

I had a conversation the other day about another actor who seems to me to differ from Flynn in only one respect: he's alive. If the internet gossip blogs are telling the truth (and sometimes they are, you know), he's probably Errol for the 21st Century, right down to the rumours of being fond of occasional manlove. He also features in action movies, though more shouty than swashbuckling, and though not quite so beautiful (who is?) I think he's sometimes almost as charming and charismatic on screen.

If he's the New Flynn, then I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him. I've loved Flynn for ten years or so, but it was, is and always will be, of the most absolute platonic sort, not because he's long-dead, but because I don't believe I could be in love with someone so completely unable to dedicate himself to one person, to love one person. There are things about Flynn that I dislike: the penchant for younger ladies, for one (if the internet is true, New Flynn just about fulfils this criterion too). The drugs for another (again the internet for New Flynn). I was never more disappointed in Flynn than when I saw a documentary and his daughter talked of his twenty/twenty-five year morphine addiction, though not because of the addiction. In My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Flynn says he experimented, had a bad few weeks and was helped out of it by friends. It wasn't the drugs that made me cry, it was the fact that he'd lied. The reason I'd loved that man wasn't the legend, it was the way he had chosen a way to live and was unapologetic for it. He lived by his own rules and to the devil for anyone who wouldn't let him. That's what I loved and respected. And he lied just like everyone else, in the end.

I never felt sorry for him, this alcoholic, drug-addicted, serial shagger movie star, not ever. Even when I read between the lines of My Wicked Wicked Ways or read the actual lines in trash-biography books like Satan's Angel, I never felt sorry for him, because he had lived the way he wanted to. Then I saw My Favorite Year and another of my heroes, PETER O'TOOLEplayed a fellow called Alan Swann with such grace and pathos that I realised that for all his charm, charisma, beauty and outright wonder, Errol Flynn was ultimately a sad, pathetic little man just like the rest of us. He died as alone as the rest of us, for all the In Like Flynn escapades, for all his Cuban exploits, for all of his nose-thumbing to authority, Errol was like the rest of us. I could hardly bear the sorrow that day, although I've seen My Favorite Year many times since and of all the DVDs I've imported from America, it was the most important to me (Dancing Lady strangely low down the list!).

Still, the humanising of Errol Flynn has allowed me to see him with fresh eyes and I'm glad to say I love him no less. He is, and ever will be, the most beautiful man, I have ever seen. He makes Ben Barnes look like Sid James. Of all the movie stars I've seen grace the screen (ie, most of them), only Valentino has a power almost equal to Flynn's in terms of keeping one's gaze directed at him, and only him. I first saw The Adventures of Robin Hood on TCM and taped it off there before I got a copy of the video proper, and at one time I would arrive home from school, put the video straight on and watch it. Then rewind and watch again. I could probably quote the whole damn script given half a chance, and there are lines from it that will stay with me forever:

"Why, you speak treason!"
"Fluently."

I think that one, brief exchange between Maid Marian and Robin Hood is what pulled me in. Who else could've pulled off a line like that? When it first came out, I thought Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was OK. Not great, but I liked the legend itself so I watched it. I can't watch it anymore, not because of Costner's performance, or Slater's nonsense or the other awfulnesses, but because I've seen Flynn now and can't go back. If only we could transplant Rickman's Sheriff into the 'proper' film...

There's something knowing about every film Flynn did, so that even when you're watching some terrible films, Flynn lets you the audience know that he knows it's terrible too. I've seen awful films elevated to enjoyable by that alone. This was not a po-faced "WHAT DON'T YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?" method actor, and yet he possessed each of his characters quite completely. I loved that about him from the first scenes of Robin Hood through to this morning, when I finally saw The Master of Ballantrae on TCM. Ballantrae is a bad film, but even with his face ravaged by years of hard living, neglect and dissipation, Flynn is still a movie star and yes, my eyes still followed him so intently that I can hardly tell you what the guy playing his brother looked like. I'd hardly even have noticed Roger 'Colonel Blimp' Livesey if it weren't for the fact he was touting some terrible Oirish accent about with him. There is something about a man who had such a power even when his looks have mostly abandoned him.

So no, I really don't care what shit Flynn got up to during his eventful 50 years. I don't care if he murdered a native person in New Guinea and I don't care if he was boffing 15/16 year old girls (partly because I think they were probably more than keen). I happen to not believe the unsubstatiated rumours of him being a Nazi spy, mostly because he appears to me to be far more socialist than anything - he went to Cuba for the revolution, for God's sake! I don't care about any of it, not because I'm heartless, but because watching him in those films, all I see is that face and all I feel is the waves of charm rolling from the screen.

He wasn't as far as I can see a good man, but he was great in his way. He was unapologetic about the life he chose to life, and I don't suppose he regretted most of it. Time will tell if the New Flynn actually is the New Flynn, but I don't think I'll live to see anyone truly fulfil the same place in the world. After all, Pirates of the Caribbean managed to resurrect the swashbuckler, but the role Errol once took had to be split between two people: Depp and Bloom. Incidentally, he'd already taken part in parodying the form with The Adventures of Don Juan in '48.

He was a bastard who likely brought as much misery as joy to anyone who loved him at the time. I wouldn't have much liked being one of his wives, or children, but I love him. There's nothing you could tell me that could possibly change that, and that ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is pretty well the dictionary definition of a True Movie Star.
apolla: (Lyooominous)
I went to a double bill of Gerard Philipe films today: Fanfan la Tulipe and Les Belles de Nuit. In French with subtitles, I was almost tempted to stay for the third film but was knackered. Wish I had stayed now... but for one thing.

I actually kinda hate going to the cinema. I know, I'm supposed to be a Big Time Movie Fan, but I don't actually like going to the cinema. I've been more times in the last 26 days than I probably went in the entirety of last year and all I can think is how much I don't actually like the experience. Had I been born, as I might have preferred, in 1901 or 1923 or 1952 or take your pick, I probably wouldn't think like this. Home video has a lot to answer for, but nothing so much as my intolerance for other people.

I only live about 200 metres from my nearest cinema. I only started using it last 14th February (There Will Be Blood) which should say more about my dislike of 'going to the movies' than most other things. Who needs the cinema when one has a TV and a DVD/VHS player? Well, there's an excellent argument to make that movies should be seen as intended: on big screens with big sound systems. Yes, to a point that's true, and I suppose my first viewing of Laurence of Arabia on a TV (pretty big, but a TV nonetheless) was different to my mother's, who saw it at a cinema on Tottenham Court Road. She swears the management turned the heating up during the desert scenes, because you never saw such a queue for the ice cream during the interval.

So far this year/January I've seen Australia, The Reader, Che: Part One, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, Steamboat Bill, Jr. and now these two French pictures. Each and every one of these films reminded me in some way that I don't like going to the movies. Tomorrow I'll be at Milk, on Friday Revolutionary Road and two weeks later at Che: Part Two (looking forward to that one most)  and Doubt. This may be the first year I've ever seen all the Oscar nominees before the Oscars themselves, and that's because of my dislike for going to the cinema.

I just don't like it. Whoever thought it was a good idea to stuff several hundred people into a darkened room, make them pay over the odds for snacks that are, as a rule, really noisy, and then force them to sit through mind-numbing adverts for twenty minutes before letting them watch what they actually paid money for? Maybe I'd have liked the old days (shocker!) when picture palaces were actually palaces and it really was a bit of a cool thing to go to the movies and people acted accordingly.

First thing I really hate: People that don't show up on time. I get that there's stuff going on in people's lives and that sometimes people just arrive late. However, I have noticed that there's always someone who arrives literally just as the movie itself is starting. If you turn up after the lights are down but it's adverts, I don't care as long as you're polite and don't huff at me for having a bag I need to move out of your way. If you turn up during the trailers, then I reserve the right to sneer but probably won't. If you turn up just as the movie starts and you're sat in the middle of a row, I will sneer at you, and I will think you're a fucking idiot. If you also, as I saw the other day, have about six bags with you and make your entrance into a Berkeley-esque number, I will consider tripping you up. I get that sometimes people are late through no fault of their own, but I can't help thinking it's the timing of someone who doesn't want to sit through adverts and trailers. If you're sat on the end of a row near the back, fine. But don't buy a ticket for the middle of Row E and expect the rest of us to like it.

Second thing I really hate: Mobile fucking phones. This isn't so much a problem in the Barbican cinema so far as I've noticed as it is in others, but I think that's just because the audience is generally older/more pretentious. I've said this before: if you have something going on in your life that is so important that your phone has to stay on while you're in the cinema, then you shouldn't be in the cinema. Seriously: TURN THAT PIECE OF SHIT OFFLet me restate: there is no excuse for having your phone on in the cinema, let alone pissing about with it while you're watching. You've paid good money to watch said film, so WATCH IT! I remember a friend telling me that he was in the cinema watching something, a real lads movie like The Transporter or some sad waste of celluloid, when he saw a guy playing Snake on his mobile. COME ON! This really is just a matter of simple respect for other human beings. You keep your phone on in the cinema: You immediately fail.

Third thing I really hate: Talking. Seriously. I know I must do it when I'm with people, but I know (I hope) how to keep my voice down. I know during a viewing of Kate and Leopold I nearly got smacked in the face for talking, but that was by my best friend and it was a dreadful movie I was taking the piss out of in order to keep alive. Now, I get that sometimes funny or sad things happen and we want to share our emotion with the person next to us. However: DO IT QUIETLY! Save it until the post-movie post-mortem. SHUT UP! Again, it's just a question of respect for the fact that the other people in the cinema don't give a shit what you think about *insert name here*'s dress/hair/legs/whatever.

Fourth thing I really hate: Snacks. Aside from the fact that they're always overpriced, it's always noisy stuff. Popcorn, which is never quiet from the moment it's made to the moment it finally inches down the eater's oesophagus. Chocolate in rustly bags. Ice cream is OK unless the people around you insist on scraping the last tiny drops from the tub or crunch the cone. I had this problem earlier with a big bar of Mint Aero. At least at home all I have to worry about is not getting ice cream all over my fuzzy green blanket, right?

Fifth thing I hate: People's heads. This isn't so bad a problem as I remember as a kid for two reasons: I'm a little taller now, and many cinemas have been redesigned somewhat to have bigger seats and better spacing between rows. However, I am pretty short and if I get a tall person in the two or three rows in front, my view is going to be a bit screwed. I noticed that earlier: woman with big hair two rows in front insisted on sitting upright like she had a rod in her back, and I did actually miss bits of subtitles at the end of lines. This is not quite as irritating as the taller people who fidget all the time. Now, I'm pretty fidgety myself but I try to stop myself and I'm short, so at least I'm not getting in people's way. During Frost/Nixon, I had to move around a fair bit because the head in front kept moving.

Sixth thing I hate: Being at the mercy of distributors and cinema managers/schedulers. We have a lot of choice these days, a lot more than once upon a time, but we're still limited to what particular cinemas will show at the times they want us to. I would love to see The Sheik and The Son of the Sheik in a movie theatre, but I am not likely to unless some cinema decides to show them at a time and place I can attend. I'd love to see Lawrence of Arabia as Mr Lean intended, but how often does that happen?

Seventh thing I hate: Lack of control. I think this is probably the big one. I don't like not having control of everything. I'm not allowed to pause the film to go to the toilet or because I'm bored or because I want to watch whatever's on Dave at 9. I don't get to decide when I watch and I haven't tried yet but I presume going to the cinema in your PJs is frowned on. I can't sit and eat my dinner in a movie theatre. I can't be on the computer at the same time, because wow, would that make me the worst example of the Second thing I hate!  I can't rewind if I don't hear a bit or miss a bit and I can't put on the subtitles as is my curious habit. Except when I saw Prince Caspian, which by strange quirk was subtitled and of course, I didn't like it in that context.

I just don't like the cinema in comparison to watching at home, and if a movie is good enough, then a smaller screen is not the hindrance one might think. I find myself in the cinema waiting and wondering when it's going to be over, no matter how much I'm enjoying the film itself. Even during Frost/Nixon, which I thought was fantastic, I was constantly thinking 'is it finished yet?'

Anyway, change of subject...

Gerard Philipe was very good. I was expecting a French James Dean given that the films were being shown as part of a series called 'What You Got? Rebel Icons on Screen'... and instead got, quite delightfully, a French Errol Flynn. Perhaps it was the style of the films I saw, and I'm sure other Philipe films are much more... rebellious, including the film I didn't stay for. But from the first moment in Fanfan la Tulipe, when he sat up in a haystack with a young maiden and started being cocky towards her enraged father, I knew I'd like it. I'm now watching The Sea Hawk actually, reunited after quite a long absence, with my old divil Flynn. It's very easy to dismiss swashbuckler movies and the lighthearted stuff as meaningless, but I disagree. Fanfan la Tulipe was bitingly funny and cutting towards war and those who wage it. The Sea Hawk is quite the allegory for the war that was raging when it was released in 1940. Errol Flynn, that is the idea that is Flynn, might seem to the outsiders and the uninformed to just be so much posturing, but really he was and is so much more than that. If it were just smirking, sword-waving and notoriety, why, I'd be a Fairbanks Jr fan.
apolla: (Lyooominous)
I went to a double bill of Gerard Philipe films today: Fanfan la Tulipe and Les Belles de Nuit. In French with subtitles, I was almost tempted to stay for the third film but was knackered. Wish I had stayed now... but for one thing.

I actually kinda hate going to the cinema. I know, I'm supposed to be a Big Time Movie Fan, but I don't actually like going to the cinema. I've been more times in the last 26 days than I probably went in the entirety of last year and all I can think is how much I don't actually like the experience. Had I been born, as I might have preferred, in 1901 or 1923 or 1952 or take your pick, I probably wouldn't think like this. Home video has a lot to answer for, but nothing so much as my intolerance for other people.

I only live about 200 metres from my nearest cinema. I only started using it last 14th February (There Will Be Blood) which should say more about my dislike of 'going to the movies' than most other things. Who needs the cinema when one has a TV and a DVD/VHS player? Well, there's an excellent argument to make that movies should be seen as intended: on big screens with big sound systems. Yes, to a point that's true, and I suppose my first viewing of Laurence of Arabia on a TV (pretty big, but a TV nonetheless) was different to my mother's, who saw it at a cinema on Tottenham Court Road. She swears the management turned the heating up during the desert scenes, because you never saw such a queue for the ice cream during the interval.

So far this year/January I've seen Australia, The Reader, Che: Part One, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, Steamboat Bill, Jr. and now these two French pictures. Each and every one of these films reminded me in some way that I don't like going to the movies. Tomorrow I'll be at Milk, on Friday Revolutionary Road and two weeks later at Che: Part Two (looking forward to that one most)  and Doubt. This may be the first year I've ever seen all the Oscar nominees before the Oscars themselves, and that's because of my dislike for going to the cinema.

I just don't like it. Whoever thought it was a good idea to stuff several hundred people into a darkened room, make them pay over the odds for snacks that are, as a rule, really noisy, and then force them to sit through mind-numbing adverts for twenty minutes before letting them watch what they actually paid money for? Maybe I'd have liked the old days (shocker!) when picture palaces were actually palaces and it really was a bit of a cool thing to go to the movies and people acted accordingly.

First thing I really hate: People that don't show up on time. I get that there's stuff going on in people's lives and that sometimes people just arrive late. However, I have noticed that there's always someone who arrives literally just as the movie itself is starting. If you turn up after the lights are down but it's adverts, I don't care as long as you're polite and don't huff at me for having a bag I need to move out of your way. If you turn up during the trailers, then I reserve the right to sneer but probably won't. If you turn up just as the movie starts and you're sat in the middle of a row, I will sneer at you, and I will think you're a fucking idiot. If you also, as I saw the other day, have about six bags with you and make your entrance into a Berkeley-esque number, I will consider tripping you up. I get that sometimes people are late through no fault of their own, but I can't help thinking it's the timing of someone who doesn't want to sit through adverts and trailers. If you're sat on the end of a row near the back, fine. But don't buy a ticket for the middle of Row E and expect the rest of us to like it.

Second thing I really hate: Mobile fucking phones. This isn't so much a problem in the Barbican cinema so far as I've noticed as it is in others, but I think that's just because the audience is generally older/more pretentious. I've said this before: if you have something going on in your life that is so important that your phone has to stay on while you're in the cinema, then you shouldn't be in the cinema. Seriously: TURN THAT PIECE OF SHIT OFFLet me restate: there is no excuse for having your phone on in the cinema, let alone pissing about with it while you're watching. You've paid good money to watch said film, so WATCH IT! I remember a friend telling me that he was in the cinema watching something, a real lads movie like The Transporter or some sad waste of celluloid, when he saw a guy playing Snake on his mobile. COME ON! This really is just a matter of simple respect for other human beings. You keep your phone on in the cinema: You immediately fail.

Third thing I really hate: Talking. Seriously. I know I must do it when I'm with people, but I know (I hope) how to keep my voice down. I know during a viewing of Kate and Leopold I nearly got smacked in the face for talking, but that was by my best friend and it was a dreadful movie I was taking the piss out of in order to keep alive. Now, I get that sometimes funny or sad things happen and we want to share our emotion with the person next to us. However: DO IT QUIETLY! Save it until the post-movie post-mortem. SHUT UP! Again, it's just a question of respect for the fact that the other people in the cinema don't give a shit what you think about *insert name here*'s dress/hair/legs/whatever.

Fourth thing I really hate: Snacks. Aside from the fact that they're always overpriced, it's always noisy stuff. Popcorn, which is never quiet from the moment it's made to the moment it finally inches down the eater's oesophagus. Chocolate in rustly bags. Ice cream is OK unless the people around you insist on scraping the last tiny drops from the tub or crunch the cone. I had this problem earlier with a big bar of Mint Aero. At least at home all I have to worry about is not getting ice cream all over my fuzzy green blanket, right?

Fifth thing I hate: People's heads. This isn't so bad a problem as I remember as a kid for two reasons: I'm a little taller now, and many cinemas have been redesigned somewhat to have bigger seats and better spacing between rows. However, I am pretty short and if I get a tall person in the two or three rows in front, my view is going to be a bit screwed. I noticed that earlier: woman with big hair two rows in front insisted on sitting upright like she had a rod in her back, and I did actually miss bits of subtitles at the end of lines. This is not quite as irritating as the taller people who fidget all the time. Now, I'm pretty fidgety myself but I try to stop myself and I'm short, so at least I'm not getting in people's way. During Frost/Nixon, I had to move around a fair bit because the head in front kept moving.

Sixth thing I hate: Being at the mercy of distributors and cinema managers/schedulers. We have a lot of choice these days, a lot more than once upon a time, but we're still limited to what particular cinemas will show at the times they want us to. I would love to see The Sheik and The Son of the Sheik in a movie theatre, but I am not likely to unless some cinema decides to show them at a time and place I can attend. I'd love to see Lawrence of Arabia as Mr Lean intended, but how often does that happen?

Seventh thing I hate: Lack of control. I think this is probably the big one. I don't like not having control of everything. I'm not allowed to pause the film to go to the toilet or because I'm bored or because I want to watch whatever's on Dave at 9. I don't get to decide when I watch and I haven't tried yet but I presume going to the cinema in your PJs is frowned on. I can't sit and eat my dinner in a movie theatre. I can't be on the computer at the same time, because wow, would that make me the worst example of the Second thing I hate!  I can't rewind if I don't hear a bit or miss a bit and I can't put on the subtitles as is my curious habit. Except when I saw Prince Caspian, which by strange quirk was subtitled and of course, I didn't like it in that context.

I just don't like the cinema in comparison to watching at home, and if a movie is good enough, then a smaller screen is not the hindrance one might think. I find myself in the cinema waiting and wondering when it's going to be over, no matter how much I'm enjoying the film itself. Even during Frost/Nixon, which I thought was fantastic, I was constantly thinking 'is it finished yet?'

Anyway, change of subject...

Gerard Philipe was very good. I was expecting a French James Dean given that the films were being shown as part of a series called 'What You Got? Rebel Icons on Screen'... and instead got, quite delightfully, a French Errol Flynn. Perhaps it was the style of the films I saw, and I'm sure other Philipe films are much more... rebellious, including the film I didn't stay for. But from the first moment in Fanfan la Tulipe, when he sat up in a haystack with a young maiden and started being cocky towards her enraged father, I knew I'd like it. I'm now watching The Sea Hawk actually, reunited after quite a long absence, with my old divil Flynn. It's very easy to dismiss swashbuckler movies and the lighthearted stuff as meaningless, but I disagree. Fanfan la Tulipe was bitingly funny and cutting towards war and those who wage it. The Sea Hawk is quite the allegory for the war that was raging when it was released in 1940. Errol Flynn, that is the idea that is Flynn, might seem to the outsiders and the uninformed to just be so much posturing, but really he was and is so much more than that. If it were just smirking, sword-waving and notoriety, why, I'd be a Fairbanks Jr fan.
apolla: (Fleen)

So, Rome courtesy of the BBC and HBO has arrived at the Cleopatra chapter. Glad to see they're not painting her as a sex-crazed vapid bint or anything... snerk. One finds it disheartening that 2000-year-old Augustan propaganda is still rife. Your girl Cleopatra was an intelligent and cunning woman.

Anyway, more important things: I finally saw the entirety of The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Those of you who know me may be surprised that I haven't seen it through before, not least because I've had the Errol Flynn Signature Collection in my possession since it came out the same day as Episode III. Anyway, I've always wanted to devote my time and attention to it as it so richly deserves. That and I have a great and hearty dislike of Her Majesty Bette Davis. I've a few ideas why, not least that one must be either a Bette or a Joan person, and I am in the latter's camp. The stories my Flynn told of the filming of this particular picture hardly lends itself to a sympathetic rendering of her character.

So, it's not a bad film. Lushly filmed, beautiful music. Even acted pretty well. Adored Alan Hale as the Great and Legendary Hugh O'Neill, cos he always steals whatever scene he's in. Olivia de Havilland beautiful as ever, possibly even more. Errol both beautiful and devilishly charming.

Bette Fucking Davis. I know there are those of you (hey Elise!) who adore The Bette, but I swear I started getting motion sickness from watching her fidget, shake and otherwise twat about. She must have had quite the job digesting all the scenery she chewed up. Such were her histrionics that next to her, Errol 'Hardly Brando' Flynn gives a sensitive, understated performance.

More than that, there's fuck all chemistry to go along with it. Compare it to his other turns opposite Miss de Havilland, and you'll see what I mean. Still, he's beautiful and charming and all the things I have loved so much about him over the years. The nonchalant 'all things considered I'd rather be on the Sirocco' attitude most of all. All falls apart in the last scene or two, though. Perhaps it was the first thing filmed or perhaps he'd got sick and tired of Herself whacking him in the face.

But it's still a pretty fine film, and it's all in spite of Bette Davis. Bloody woman. Give me Mildred Pierce any day of the week.

Whatever, I'm off to bed.

apolla: (Fleen)

So, Rome courtesy of the BBC and HBO has arrived at the Cleopatra chapter. Glad to see they're not painting her as a sex-crazed vapid bint or anything... snerk. One finds it disheartening that 2000-year-old Augustan propaganda is still rife. Your girl Cleopatra was an intelligent and cunning woman.

Anyway, more important things: I finally saw the entirety of The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Those of you who know me may be surprised that I haven't seen it through before, not least because I've had the Errol Flynn Signature Collection in my possession since it came out the same day as Episode III. Anyway, I've always wanted to devote my time and attention to it as it so richly deserves. That and I have a great and hearty dislike of Her Majesty Bette Davis. I've a few ideas why, not least that one must be either a Bette or a Joan person, and I am in the latter's camp. The stories my Flynn told of the filming of this particular picture hardly lends itself to a sympathetic rendering of her character.

So, it's not a bad film. Lushly filmed, beautiful music. Even acted pretty well. Adored Alan Hale as the Great and Legendary Hugh O'Neill, cos he always steals whatever scene he's in. Olivia de Havilland beautiful as ever, possibly even more. Errol both beautiful and devilishly charming.

Bette Fucking Davis. I know there are those of you (hey Elise!) who adore The Bette, but I swear I started getting motion sickness from watching her fidget, shake and otherwise twat about. She must have had quite the job digesting all the scenery she chewed up. Such were her histrionics that next to her, Errol 'Hardly Brando' Flynn gives a sensitive, understated performance.

More than that, there's fuck all chemistry to go along with it. Compare it to his other turns opposite Miss de Havilland, and you'll see what I mean. Still, he's beautiful and charming and all the things I have loved so much about him over the years. The nonchalant 'all things considered I'd rather be on the Sirocco' attitude most of all. All falls apart in the last scene or two, though. Perhaps it was the first thing filmed or perhaps he'd got sick and tired of Herself whacking him in the face.

But it's still a pretty fine film, and it's all in spite of Bette Davis. Bloody woman. Give me Mildred Pierce any day of the week.

Whatever, I'm off to bed.

Growl.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005 01:15
apolla: (Fleen)

My plane back from Rome Ciampino was an hour late and for no particularly good reason. When it finally got us back to Stansted, they made us all get off the plane at the front, presumably so they didn't have to pay for two lots of stairs. The plane got in at eleven pm and we finallymade it to our car an hour later. This is not a big airport, man. Grr.

Then I get home,  tired and dischuffed, to discover that Mark Lamarr has quit Never Mind The Buzzcocks except not really and he'll be back in 2007 (if it hasn't all gone arse over head without him) and joy of joys: Jason Donovan Set To Play Errol Flynn.

If I were not so very tired, if my head had not been aching almost constantly since at least Saturday afternoon, I would give you some indication of how totally fucking stupid this would be. Bitterly, bitterly ironic from my point of view, but totally stupid. Jason Donovan as The World's Most Beautiful Man? Jason Donovan as The World's Most Charming Man? Jason Donovan as The Greatest Swashbuckler To Ever Sail The Studio Seas? I think not. If I were not so tired, I would say more, but I am that tired and all I can say is this: PLEASE GOD NO!

Also: Best Thing Ever: walking towards St Peter's seeing a nun walking down the street side by side with someone wearing a Kurt Cobain t-shirt. Genius. Had I known about this Jason Donovan thing, I might have spent a great deal of time in the basilica praying to the Lord God Almighty for some seriously divine intervention.

Growl.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005 01:15
apolla: (Fleen)

My plane back from Rome Ciampino was an hour late and for no particularly good reason. When it finally got us back to Stansted, they made us all get off the plane at the front, presumably so they didn't have to pay for two lots of stairs. The plane got in at eleven pm and we finallymade it to our car an hour later. This is not a big airport, man. Grr.

Then I get home,  tired and dischuffed, to discover that Mark Lamarr has quit Never Mind The Buzzcocks except not really and he'll be back in 2007 (if it hasn't all gone arse over head without him) and joy of joys: Jason Donovan Set To Play Errol Flynn.

If I were not so very tired, if my head had not been aching almost constantly since at least Saturday afternoon, I would give you some indication of how totally fucking stupid this would be. Bitterly, bitterly ironic from my point of view, but totally stupid. Jason Donovan as The World's Most Beautiful Man? Jason Donovan as The World's Most Charming Man? Jason Donovan as The Greatest Swashbuckler To Ever Sail The Studio Seas? I think not. If I were not so tired, I would say more, but I am that tired and all I can say is this: PLEASE GOD NO!

Also: Best Thing Ever: walking towards St Peter's seeing a nun walking down the street side by side with someone wearing a Kurt Cobain t-shirt. Genius. Had I known about this Jason Donovan thing, I might have spent a great deal of time in the basilica praying to the Lord God Almighty for some seriously divine intervention.

apolla: (Default)

Grandson to take on Flynn Role

Actually, words don't fail me entirely. How about this, BY THE FOREHEADS OF ANT AND DEC, NOOOO!!!?

Luke Flynn possesses, from what I've seen in I think, two whole photographs, a little that is aesthetically pleasing. I can't speak to his charm or charisma, but I can say that these were not reflected in those photographs (I think in a People magazine once recently) and not in the quotes that accompanied them. My thought at the time was "Well, he doesn't look anything like my dearest Flynn, but it's nice to know that he grew up in Jamaica, which Flynn loved so much." I also recalled the memory of seeing Dean Martin's grandson Alexander in Josie and the Pussycats: I don't doubt that these guys loved their grandfathers, but that familial connection is not enough.

Come on, if it were enough, I'd be Julian Lennon's biggest fan. As it is, I recoil at the idea of there being Dhani Harrison fansites (there are, and I don't agree, frankly). You might as well just say that to clone Teh Flynn would be enough. It's not. Cosmetic similarity is never enough. As, ironically, the ill-fated Sean Flynn found out when he tried his hand at acting. I don't know what would've happened if he hadn't disappeared in the Vietcong-controlled jungles of SE Asia. However, I suspect that he already knew what it was to live with the recognition but not the glory. Happy, contented young men with their lives ahead of them don't usually take such risks. Unless recklessness really IS genetic, of course.

If Luke Flynn is a good Errol, if he is handsome and charming and lady-killing, he may yet win me over. But it will have to be on his terms and not Errol's. I've seen Son-of-Insert-Star-Here in the flesh, and I can tell you this: he won me over to his side, but he did it himself. Truth be told, it took me some time to realise that it was definitely who I thought it was, and by the time it was confirmed, I was already on his side.

Hell, words didn't fail me after all. Now on Katie's request, one of my less-used icons.

apolla: (Default)

Grandson to take on Flynn Role

Actually, words don't fail me entirely. How about this, BY THE FOREHEADS OF ANT AND DEC, NOOOO!!!?

Luke Flynn possesses, from what I've seen in I think, two whole photographs, a little that is aesthetically pleasing. I can't speak to his charm or charisma, but I can say that these were not reflected in those photographs (I think in a People magazine once recently) and not in the quotes that accompanied them. My thought at the time was "Well, he doesn't look anything like my dearest Flynn, but it's nice to know that he grew up in Jamaica, which Flynn loved so much." I also recalled the memory of seeing Dean Martin's grandson Alexander in Josie and the Pussycats: I don't doubt that these guys loved their grandfathers, but that familial connection is not enough.

Come on, if it were enough, I'd be Julian Lennon's biggest fan. As it is, I recoil at the idea of there being Dhani Harrison fansites (there are, and I don't agree, frankly). You might as well just say that to clone Teh Flynn would be enough. It's not. Cosmetic similarity is never enough. As, ironically, the ill-fated Sean Flynn found out when he tried his hand at acting. I don't know what would've happened if he hadn't disappeared in the Vietcong-controlled jungles of SE Asia. However, I suspect that he already knew what it was to live with the recognition but not the glory. Happy, contented young men with their lives ahead of them don't usually take such risks. Unless recklessness really IS genetic, of course.

If Luke Flynn is a good Errol, if he is handsome and charming and lady-killing, he may yet win me over. But it will have to be on his terms and not Errol's. I've seen Son-of-Insert-Star-Here in the flesh, and I can tell you this: he won me over to his side, but he did it himself. Truth be told, it took me some time to realise that it was definitely who I thought it was, and by the time it was confirmed, I was already on his side.

Hell, words didn't fail me after all. Now on Katie's request, one of my less-used icons.

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