Wednesday, 20 January 2010

My first full-length 3D film experience

Well, yesterday finally got round to seeing 'Avatar'. If it hadn't been for the novelty of 3D I probably wouldn't have bothered. My previous experience of 3D had been for some film I'm pretty sure was in the early 1980s when you were supposed to put on your spectacles for only those times in which a certain character wore a mask, I think. I can't for the life of me remember what that film was but it must surely have been some sort of horror film.
Anyway, if I'd seen 'Avatar' in 'flat-screen' format I doubt very much if I'd have stayed until the end. Found the first third of it mildly interesting, the next hour or more deadly boring with all its predictable romantic cliches (outright hostility turns to grudging admiration which turns to 'love', in turn changing to perceived betrayal and then finally to 'saviour' mode.) , though the film did perk up a bit towards the end, with the stock 'baddie' getting his just deserts of course. But all through, as Larry Ohio mentioned, I found the over-use of 'this-is-what-you-must-think' music so objectionable. As for the 3D itself, yes, it was sporadically impressive but I'd honestly expected to be even more impressed than I was. On getting my 'specs' at admission I said that I didn't expect to be using them again for a long time but was told that they are expecting up to 18 releases in 3D later in this year alone so I'd better keep them safely.
By the way, why do so many films, even those set at some future date, simply have to feature at least one heavy smoker. It's almost as though the film-makers are 'making a point' - perhaps cocking a snook at goody-goodies like me, though what people do in private OR do with other adults without deleteriously affecting non-participants I couldn't care less about. But it seems to me that even in contemporary settings the number of characters on film who smoke is a higher proportion than in real life. Anyway, so much for that. I'll now make an exit on that little peeve.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Raybeardless - aged 24

Might as well show this pic off, taken on the same sojourn in U.S.A. as previous blog. (Note the razor-sharp crease in my trousers. I was so 'trendy' then!) Couple of years after this was taken I grew a beard, which, despite pleas from my mum to shave it off, has remained a continuous feature right up to today....... and, oh yes, my note says "Taken on 88th floor balcony (?) of Empire State Building".

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Rolling back the years - to my American experience.

Thought one or two of you might be interested to see a pic I took on my one and only visit to the U.S.A. in 1970. This was taken from the Staten Island ferry - at a time when colour film for personal use was, for me, very much a novelty. As I took this photo I recall thinking of the opening aerial shot of (the film of) West Side Story. On the left of the shot one can see the construction of (of course) the Twin Towers.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow Blues

Been snowing all night and still doing so - parts of the country experiencing their most severe Winter for around 30 years with even daytime temps here on the south coast below freezing - and no sign to the end of it with Winter barely out of its infancy. Boo hoo! Loathe this weather. Cursing myself for having chucked out a few years ago a set of chains to wear on one's shoes, because when walking they were 'too noisy'. Now when the snow turns to ice and I go arse-over-tit and suffer an incapacitating injury, life will be a horror story with absolutely no one here or within reach to assist me. Why did I have to buy in advance last week a ticket to go out tomorrow to see the film 'Nine' when it could have waited?
But on more upbeat note, cinema-going has started out well this year - 'Sherlock Holmes' was more than a little enjoyable, despite all the tricksy camera-work and cut-and-slash editing. Even better was 'Nowhere Boy', based on John Lennon's pre-Beatles youth years. What a mixed-up (though maybe understandably) terror and unlikeable bully he was! But as a film, the latter could well end up in my top ten best of 2010.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Mopping up 2009's highs and lows of films, books and pop music.

Films most enjoyed (i.e. felt they were worth the money) out of 84 cinema visits, in order of viewing:-
Revolutionary Road
Inglourious Basterds
Broken Embraces
Julie & Julia
Away We Go
Bright Star
Paranormal Activities
Me and Orson Welles

Film least liked - 'The Boat That Rocked' (not even redeeemed by the presence of the ever-watchable Philip Seymour Hoffman.)

Book that most impressed - out of 60 books read (excluding 20 re-reads)
Khalid Hosseini's 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' - heartbreaking, shattering and mind-opening.

Book finally got round to reading - and liked a lot:-
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's 'Heat and Dust'.

Book found most entertaining-
Augusten Burrough's 'Running with Scissors' - thanks to Breenlantern for mentioning this author whom I hadn't known till then.

Book I expected to enjoy but didn't especially - (what was all the fuss about?)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Book not expected to have liked, but did (well, quite) :-
Michael Crichton's - Prey.

Biggest pop-music revelation for me:-
Can't think of one for 2009 (not even Lady Ga Ga!) - maybe should accept I'm just getting too old.

Biggest pop-music disappointment:-
Mika's follow-up album after the sensationally good 'Life in Cartoon Motion', awash with 'tunes' from heaven.

What I'd most like to hear in 2010:-

'Scissor Sisters' delivering something as punchily brilliant as their first eponymous album, though 'Ta-DAH' is very nearly as good too. (Okay, okay - so what if I do have the hots for Babydaddy?)

Madonna renouncing wearing animal fur (It's become an unwelcome spectre at the feast whenever I hear her songs, even from yonks ago, and I've just got to have a regular dose of Madge.)

Susan Boyle coming out as lesbian - or, if not, at least getting a sensitive and sensible manager who will guide and care for her properly and with discretion.

So, there it is for last year. What will the the start of the new decade bring? One wonders and hopes, doesn't one?
......and an especially happy NY to anyone reading this.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

An Englishman in New York

Was looking forward to watching this last night, having recorded it from a couple of days ago. (John Hurt reprising his playing of Quentin Crisp.) Unfortunately I'd only just read Peter Tatchell's article denouncing Crisp, quoting several truly appalling sayings which could have come from the most rabid homophobe, so this detracted from any enjoyment I might otherwise have experienced. (Can't imagine how these odious pronouncements had passed me by - although must admit I haven't been active on the gay scene for a couple of decades now. The kindest interpretation I can put on what he said was that it was down to the ramblings of his then advancing senility.) John Hurt gave, as expected, an astonishing performance, but the only controversial issue that the programme dealt with in any depth was Crisp's dismissal of AIDS as a 'fad'. Anyway, when I first saw 'The Naked Civil Servant' way back in the mid-1970s it made a deep impression on me, and gave me much-needed renewed confidence in my having 'come out' just a couple of years before, belatedly, in my late 2os. Maybe 'Englishman' is worth a watch, especially if one is ignorant of his remarks as reported, as I had been. But even if one still doesn't know of them, I've spoilt it now, haven't I? .......Sorry!!!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Went Christmas Day well? On the whole, not too bad.

Woken up at 4.15 a.m. with the Stones' 'Street Fighting Man' being blasted out from flat below. Hopeless to try sleeping further. Letting Blackso out, seeing light from under neighbour's door, tried to be extra quiet to avoid him coming out - but failed. His door opened - "Merry Christmas, Ray!" a seasonal greeting from alcohol-fuelled beaming red face (Stones still playing in background - Wait, did I just say background?). Muttered reciprocated wishes , not at all heartfelt. (Did he notice? Probably not.) Returned upstairs to watch news channel report of attack on Pope. Female member of congregation interviewed after midnight mass at London's Westminster Cathedral - "How can anyone do that to such a lovely man?" (I offer no comment as to the adjective employed!) As it was quiet downstairs by now, to enter Christmas spirit put on a section of vintage recording of 'Messiah' (Klemperer - ponderous interpretation but still fascinating) - but not too loud as didn't want to disturb neighbours! At 7.30 back to bed to recover some sleep. Just drifted off when phone rang -my sister to wish me. (Bless her. She wasn't to know.) I can never return immediately to sleep after being unexpectedly awoken, so remained out of bed once more. Read a bit more 'Gone With the Wind' - still every bit as splendid as ever on this, what must be a 5th read. Watched the Orson Welles film of 'Macbeth', recorded few days ago - so dark, both literally and moodily, but also quite funny in parts. Bed again - success this time! One-plus hours catch-up achieved. Christmas dinnertime - egg, chips and beans (as stated in previous post) all of which went down beautifully. Satisfyingly replete, sat down to watch 2008 film of 'La Boheme'. Two hours uninterrupted bliss - with Blackso on my lap entire time. Then played around on computer, catching up on emails, blogs, news stories, some porn sites etc. Watched first hour of old extended interview with, again, Orson Welles. (Part of BBC 'Orson Welles Season') But even 10 o'clock is getting late for me these days........ so to bed.