Sunday, June 03, 2012

2012 - 35

Long May It Rain Over Her

Heh. It's cold; it's wet; it's miserable and I can't help feeling a little bit of pride about being British today. There's a real sense of that old Dunkirk spirit surging through the waterlogged streets of Blighty.

It's just a real shame that they moved the Whitsun BH, because had all this been done last weekend... Well, sunburn and dehydration would have replaced trench foot and webbed fingers!

In Space No One Eats Ice Cream

After reading mate Will's scathing review of Prometheus, I decided to download the Director's Cut of Alien; it's something I've never seen and unlike other Director's Cuts the extra scenes only added to the thrill.

The most prominent extra scene is when Ripley, attempting to flee the monster stumbles upon some of her lost crew, wrapped up in the bonds that we became familiar with in James Cameron's Aliens and it begged the question as to why this 30 second scene was originally cut from the cinema release. It actually has a lot more to do with the sequels than a lot else in the film. It did, however offer up the question of whether or not the alien that burst from John Hurt's chest was a queen, or, as I pointed out to the wife, it might have just been storing them for food.

The film is still extremely visceral; the tension remains after umpteen viewings and unlike so many other films, there really is a less is more feel to the film. Like Jaws, where the tension builds without seeing a full view of 'Bruce' until near the end; it's the background that reveals what is actually happening. Veronica Cartwright and Yaphet Kotto's deaths are essentially either viewed from odd angles or heard over the internal radio and work all the more for it. In fact, while you 'witness' each crew members death, you never really see it.

The one thing I noticed, as it has been a good ten years since I last watched it, was how vulnerable Ripley is. She is built up in the film to be a bit of a wet fish; a stickler for regulations and arguably the weakest character on the Nostromo - not in terms of performance, but in terms of character's stature and bravery. This, of course, is almost diametrically opposite what Cameron did with her character in the sequel, making her all balls and big guns rather than just someone terrified for her life and I figure.

Obviously, for a film made in 1979, some things are really dated - such as the computer terminals (which, it has to be said, Hall 9000 was a far better concept and that came 10 years earlier than 'Mother'), but some things are still just totally awesome. The journey into the crashed spaceship looks as good as if it had been designed last week and there are lots of very nice little touches - the crew's last meal appeared to be made up of mainly bean sprouts and plant shoots - the kind of thing you'd imagine would be grown on a ship the size of Nostromo to give the crew some fresh food. Plus, because there is no CGI, everything has a real feel about it, even the spaceships, shuttles and space vistas.

There are some glitches, but they were glitches when I first saw the film at the cinema in 1979. The chest bursting scene is brilliant, but the baby alien looks like a penis with teeth and the final killing of the alien looks a bit like a man in an alien suit; but other than that I can see why it remains one of the greatest films (not just SF films) of all time.

I've decided I'm going to watch Aliens - The Director's Cut because I haven't seen that version either! I have also decided that I will watch Prometheus, but only because Philip French in the Observer quite liked it.

Dobbin Lives

The wife has always referred to the Gibb brothers as Boris, Dobbin and Gary and has never really held the Bee Gees as anything but a source of ridicule. I, on the other hand, grew up with albums such as Idea, Trafalgar, Life in a Tin Can and Odessa - albums made long before Robert Stigwood helped turn them into purveyors of disco cheese.

The Bee Gees wrote some cracking songs, either recorded by themselves or others and my feelings about the band are similar to that of Genesis (the 'prog' pop band), in that the early stuff is incomparable to the stuff that actually made them superstars.

While watching a bit of BBC2's minor tribute to the band last night, it reminded me of something from my past; something I'd almost completely forgotten about...

In the early 70s, long before the cutting edge Grange Hill, the Bee Gees helped write the soundtrack to a film based on an Alan Parker script. For those of you unfamiliar with Parker, he did Fame and Bugsy Malone and was renowned as the kind of bloke who could produce gritty and realistic drama (ala Mike Leigh) as well as fluffy musical stuff - a kind of British Bob Fosse without the sex and choreography. In 1971, he wrote the script for a film called Melody about two 11 year-olds who meet, fall in love and want to get married, but are stopped because of their age and the fact that the adults don't take their love seriously.

I'm trying to download the film at the moment (it's stalled at 77%) and I'm sure I'll find it quite awful now (despite the 7.5 rating on IMDB), but back in 1972, when I saw it at the cinema (aged 10) it was one of best films I'd ever seen. Plus, as I grew up in a house that played a lot of Bee Gees, the soundtrack was ace. First of May is possibly one of the loveliest songs ever written!

Date with Destiny

A week from today, I will have known for a few days what my future holds. Whether I've (again) been the victim of budget cuts or I've been lucky and avoided the humiliation of another 'redundancy'. I'd like to think I've done enough to prove my worth, but I also realise that my fate is largely out of my hands (and that of my boss, who, it seems, has less power than I believed him to have). Next week is going to be interesting, more for my likely reaction than anything else. I have one more card to play; one, unfortunately, that is likely to force an issue rather than help it.

I remain ambivalent about it; like I have since I first discovered my job was at risk. I'm not keen on another spell of being unemployed, but if it happens this time, I'll be prepared for it.

  • I have spent the last 36 hours listening to Spotify. I gave up on this app a long time ago, because of a mixture of adverts and limited amount of plays allowed of a specific song. However, I decided to just set the thing up and listen to the 80 odd tracks I've included in my Faves Folder - this included all manner of stuff from The Verve to Mescalito to Blow Up Hollywood to Talk Talk. The only thing that spoiled it was the incessant adverts, most of which become suicidally annoying by the time you've heard them a few times. Of course, if you hit the mute button or turn the volume down too much Spotify pauses itself so you can't avoid the ads unless you switch the speakers off. Grooveshark is a far better proposition, but I've noticed over the last few months that the choice is becoming limited - it's a good place to go for some rare stuff, but generally it's found lacking.
  • Good weather for ducks? Sure is. I have to don the Union Jack sowester, wellies and gloves to tackle cleaning the duck shed out. It has to be done and now we have 9 ducks you can't really leave it longer than necessary - for two reasons; it's not fair on the fowl and the longer you leave it the harder it is to scrape duck shit soaked newspaper off the floor.
  • I just saw someone walk into a lamp post, outside the house, while texting. I laughed, the window was open, I think he heard me!
  • Taking umbrage with cod.

1 comment:

  1. It did, however offer up the question of whether or not the alien that burst from John Hurt's chest was a queen, or, as I pointed out to the wife, it might have just been storing them for food.

    In the novelisation, it's turning them into aliens in some unspecified manner. Similarly, in the sequel's novelisation, Gorman gets hurt not by a falling piece of equipment, but by an alien's tail "sting"; later on he realises that it has planted a chestburster within him, which is why he goes out with a grenade. In the final film, he's only got a bump on his head, so suicide seems a bit excessive.

    the baby alien looks like a penis with teeth

    I think that's deliberate. Giger's original designs for the creature that became the alien had a todger where the second mouth is in the final film, for example.