New Lifetime feature about moidas and idiots

http://www.lifetimetv.co.uk/features/bonnie-clyde-is-doomed-love-all-its-cracked-up-to-be

Fred West was in there at one point, but NO. And if you are wondering, women aren’t to blame: men need to stop showing off by nicking cars and doing bad killings.

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Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’: Forgiveness on a global scale

I’ve been listening to every Bowie album I own back-to-back in the closed sound booth that is my car. There’s an 80s-shaped gap in the discography with the exception of Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. 90s? No Tin Machine, Earthling or the drab Heathen and Hours. Check out Last.fm kids: listeners steer well clear of these albums like they’ve been sprayed with hot excrement.

When the Beeb aired the nearly-excellent documentary Five Years a few months back, it was rather telling that they didn’t bother to cover anything after the release of the Niles Rodger’s produced Let’s Dance album. Five years in a period of ten, basically. There’s been no critical reappraisal of his Nine Inch Nails-inspired industrial concept album 1. Outside, nor did follow up 2. Contamination see release likely because Mr. Jones feared a further critical mauling. I have a soft spot for Outside because it coincided with my own discovery of the Duke and the Rez, but it is ten tracks too long. There’s a great album trapped in filler. For an artist that has always been tight when it comes to extras and never released a double LP, Outside is unusually flabby and suffers from a lack of self-editing. Now we’ve got playlists, so the Segue dross can be happily excised.

Five Years was knackered for me by the inclusion of total gobshite and public masturbator John Harris, hilariously credited as ‘journalist and author’. Bowie doesn’t give interviews and loathed giving them during his prolific periods, so it’s incredible that the documentary makers included this utter bellend who has no credentials other than ownership of a Best Of from the HMV Christmas sale. “It’s magical – he’s seen the cosmos in the bus stop” spurts forth the strangled cock on ‘Life On Mars’. “To be on Dick Cavett meant you had arrived.” How do you know, Harris? You’re British, for fucks sake. You weren’t even born or in the right country when this interview aired. Nor did any Brits know who the hell Dick Cavett was, or is. Thank you for wasting valuable screen time when we could have been watching the Dame strut around in a feather boa or hanging out in a Berlin drag club. Excellent writer and ex-NME columnist Charles Shaar Murray is permitted three brief voxpops, and Cameron Crowe disappointingly absent. Both of these journalists are important to contextualise Bowie having met and interviewed the man in person during the period the doc covers. I’m wondering if the running time was an issue and they ended up using footage from Dicksplash Harris simply because they were stuffed for material. Then again, I imagine that the current Bowie management were involved and didn’t want to include too much material that could taint his legacy or focus on all the powder he put up his beak.

 

That brings us to the latest album, The Next Day. Allegedly EMI didn’t realise a new album was due until a week before the release date, which is a little unbelievable. However, you’re not exactly going to balk when one of your biggest stars and money-spinners decides to drop a new record for the first time in nearly 10 years. And while there are some great songs on there, over repeated listens I’ve become more jaded with what now comes across as a pastiche of his previous self. The appalling album sleeve, which quite rightly has been slated from Beckenham to New Brunswick, is completely baffling. If the implication is that everything Derek has released post-Heroes is shit, then he could have at least used another photograph by Sukita Masayoshi (an exhibition of whose work I sadly missed in Osaka recently).

There are great tracks like ‘The Stars Are Out Tonight’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’ which I’d play over and over. Then there’s stuff like ‘I’d Rather Be High’ and ‘Dirty Boys’ which cause me to grimace at the thought of a pensioner snorting blow off teenage girls, or worse. No overanalysis of the lyrics are required. This is the problem for the aging musician. Is he drawing in new fans or appealing to the old guard? The latter, I’m sure is the case. The album is as a whole a more enjoyable listening experience than the previous two, yet the positive reviews that emerged after the media scrum were all positive. SPIN gave it 5/10, and Mark Fisher called The Next Day an album of “quotidian mediocrity”, saying it was entirely undeserving of its wide acclaim and that the “wave of hyperbole it generated point to a wider malaise in contemporary music” because it proved that anything of low artistic merit could achieve success via “artfully timed PR”. That previous sentence was lifted from Wiki entirely because I couldn’t find a link online. THAT’LL DO.

Yawningly, The Independent, The Telegraph and Q gave it 5 stars and The Guardian 4 stars (and whose pre- and post-release coverage was daily and mind-numbing). Publications that all appeal to the dull demographic I belong to: white, male, 18-34. Though I doubt many 18 year olds were buying either the record or reading about it.

Yet I haven’t eradicated The Next Day from my iPod. I didn’t go so far as to buy the vinyl or the double CD set, which I’m thankful as I recently purged my entire CD collection. Perhaps it’s still too new to appreciate. It took me five years (bumtish) to understand what the hell Tool were doing with Aenima. It’s bland, it’s inoffensive and oft unmoving. But it’s Bowie, and we have to be thankful that he could be arsed to give it one more push before he heads off to the great big cloud in the sky for multi-millionaires. We aren’t invited.

“The ratings for the first series started poorly and went downhill from there…” – Alan Partridge & The Alpha Papa Mystery

 

 

Well, it’s finally happening. The Alan Partridge movie. Ruddy bloody good!

I’m sure like most fans of Alan, we all feel a little uneasy about how it’s going to turn out even though it’s in the capable hands of Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham. Ninety minutes is a long time to fill with quality broadcasting.

The teaser trailer that appeared online earlier today didn’t have me brimming with hope. I can see what they’re trying to do, appealing to the big-eared boys on farms, council estates and the offices up and down the land, but the lame parody tone, dim lighting and quick fire editing doesn’t feel remotely Partridge. It’ll be a one-off I’m sure for those who aren’t die-hard fans, but I’m wondering if they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot by trying to aim to the wrong demographic. Yes, I suppose I am a stubborn old fart having been watching Coogan/Partridge since his first TV apperance in The Day Today.

Two other things about the trailer that boiled my piss: it wasn’t funny, and it features Tim Key.

 

Ever since I saw Key reading his naff “ironic” poems on Screen Wipe, there was something about this bearded prig that didn’t sit right with me. Perhaps it’s the self-aware, smug attitude. If you’ve seen Mid-Morning Matters, he’s not like Michael for instance, someone who acts as a foil for Alan’s barbed snobbery. He’s just a git.

That said, there’s no way I’m going to miss this. ‘Welcome to the Places of My Life’ was a triumph, with some inspired writing (the nazi saluting dogs and the local market scenes were two of my favourite moments), so here’s hoping that it doesn’t become a watered down episode or over-extends itself like the biography which was short on laughs.

If it’s successful, we can always hope for more Alan. A friend of mine emailed me today saying a Kickstarter needs to be set up for a spin-off Lynn film. The financial goal?

Nine-and-a-half thousand pounds.

Django Unchained (and Tarantino In Rage)

I’ve been speaking to a few people today about Tarantino’s oeuvre now that Django Unchained is hitting cinemas any time now. One friend of mine considers most of his films crap, and that’s produced nothing of merit since Pulp Fiction. Personally, I like some more than others. I find Reservoir Dogs tiresome, mainly because of the endless monologue about Like A Virgin and the over-parodied “slow walk” during the first 10 minutes. Jackie Brown didn’t do much for me either. But I do think True Romance (which he scripted) brilliant, and in the hands of the now-dead Tony Scott, the cast really bled for that film.

Kill Bill 2 was a waste of time as well.

Despite those, I liked Death Proof, which I consider underrated. Kurt Russell is great in that film, a really nasty piece of work. The structure is rather odd, and is so in both versions (The original ‘Grindhouse’ version misses about half an hour of story, including an interesting lapdance).

Kill Bill 1 I loved, and not because of the Japanese influences.

Pulp Fiction’s praise is justified.

Inglorious Basterds was superb. Who doesn’t love Christoph Platz?

The Channel 4 news interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy that aired tonight saw the man coming out swinging when questioned about his attitude towards violence in cinema, something which he claimed he’d gone on record about too many times already. Get Googling. And as usual, it takes the media to point out things like Newtown that eclipsed the news at the end of 2012, as something they believe violent movies (not to mention video games) as influencing.

It’s absolute crap, isn’t it?

During the first 10 years of my life, I’d played a lot of computer games, but the only violence I’d ever seen was not on television but in the school yard. Children can be nasty pieces of work, and coupled with an abusive homelife, to turn around and blame Double Dragon or Street Fighter II seems a bit rich.

I’ve played over 100 hours of Borderlands 2 recently, and I’ve never even considered shooting anyone. What disturbs me is the oversimplification of mental illness that permeates the media every day, written by someone who has no knowledge or interest in the facts beyond the headlines.

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I was most surprised that the fact that Django Unchained probably features the most uses of the word n*gger by a white director to be a more of an interesting debate than QT’s use of violence. The gunfights are so stylised and OTT, that it’s impossible not to enjoy them. It’s comic book+, not Hostel or A Clockwork Orange. It’s a classic revenge movie, not sadistic like Grotesque or The Human Centipede. Once again, the quick grab headline is going to be about QT raging on British TV, telling the interviewer he’s getting his “butt shut down” for asking stupid questions, which is sad because they had the opportunity to ask one of best living director’s about his art and blew it.

Django Unchained is the best film I’ve seen this year. It may even be the best film I saw in the past 12 months. The cast are excellent (with the exception of QT himself, who just HAD to write himself a cameo yet can’t act his way out of a wet paper bag) – with nods to Jamie Foxx and Christoph Platz who are surprisingly muted compared to the foul-mouthed racists Don Johnson and Leo DiCaprio.

The violence is over the top and bloody. It’s probably the most blood-soaked QT flick yet, but it’s also the most tightly plotted and satisfying.

I’m not a generous man, but it was a 9/10 for me. Can’t wait for what he’s got in store next time.

I really need to stop watching ガキの使い, but it’s so damn funny.

I know this one is going to take some explaining.

I’m addicted to a TV show that you’ve never heard of, seen or even imagined. It’s Japanese, so for those who do know me that’ll be somewhat of a non-revelation. It’s a weekly comedy show and has been running continuously since October 3, 1989 on NTV. And it’s so damn strange that a critical analysis for a gaijin such as yourself is going to make me sound like the mentalist for liking it in the first place.

First up, the title just trips off the tongue: Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! (ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!!). Downtown are a comedy duo who’ve spent pretty much the last 20-plus years on Japanese TV, and are probably the most popular comedians working there today. Perhaps only Beat Takeshi is more popular, though for Western audiences we know him as a brutal gangster, bastard of a policeman or a guy in a funny hat who presides over a castle where people snap ribs trying to break in

It’s through that show that I came to find out about Gaki no Tsukai (the shorter, more Brit-friendly way I pronounce the show’s title). As a child, I used to like shows like Crush A Grape, Fun House and It’s a Royal Knockout (repeats). Today, that’s replaced by Total Wipeout on BBC1 presented by Richard Hairmond. If you’ve not seen Takeshi’s Castle, you’re missing a really funny/painful/public humiliation/trial of the human spirit/wtf? tv show. The UK edition is narrated by Craig Charles and has been running on digital for quite a few years now.

Once I’d had my fill of that, I was out of ideas of what to watch next. Not knowing any Japanese (at the time), there’s no way you can just google this stuff up. Then I was told about Gaki‘s ‘infamous’ batsu games. Check this out:

Gaki’s stars, the duo known as Downtown (Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada) hail from Osaka, the lovely foodie part of Japan. Having been there and eaten the udon, I can vouch for the friendly atmosphere and people, and the less hectic lifestyle compared to Tokyo. The concept of the batsu developed early on, when one of the pair would lose a bet and be forced to accept a punishment. Often this would be something ridiculous like Matsumoto dressing up as the NTV bird and providing the beeeeep! of the colour test, to Hamada having to fly to France in a day to retrieve Evian from the glacier where it comes from. Then things started to get more serious. As in, funnier.

The first big televised event was in March 2000, where Hamada, plus three other cast members (the duo Cocorico, and the hard done-to Hosei Yamasaki, a favourite of mine) had to spend 24 hours playing tag in a school gymnasium. The twist in this case was that the taggers, once you were caught, would then exact an awful, and often painful, punishment upon the victim.

Full video, with subtitles:

[continued…]

CAN DAVID MITCHELL (AND GALLIUM-KNIGHT) KINDLY FUCK OFF NOW, PLEASE?

When I was toying with the idea of a blog, back in February of this year, I went down the tumblr route, before giving up after a single entry. And here it is:

In 2005, my American girlfriend at the time introduced me to a then barely-known London-based sitcom called Peep Show. Initially balking at the idea of sitting through yet another too-trendy-for-you-sir late night comedy, I found myself rather enjoying it. Then liking it. Then loving it. A few years later I considered myself a fan.

Then it went off air for a bit and I directed my attentions towards Lost or Battlestar Galactica or some other such balls that would end up crapping into my open mouth when their finales eventually appeared online to illegally download.

But then something happened. There was another Peep Show. Except it wasn’t anywhere near as funny.

In fact, it was about as funny as being held down by a gang of thugs taking turns squeezing a bicycle pump that’s attached to your bell-end. Unlike A Bit of Fry And LaurieBottomAlas… Smith and Jones, and many other duo-centric comedies that used to be made for eight quid on the Beeb, I find myself sitting in front of ball-saggingly lame catchphrase gags covered up by over-zealous canned laughter. It was called That Mitchell And Webb Look.

At this point I realised these guys were on the slide. Hammered home further when I saw the universally-panned Magicians advertised on the side of a 157 bus.

Around this point in my life I became a boring cunt and started listening to Radio 4. At least, until the oft hilarious (in a boring cunt-ish way) Just A Minute started inviting David Mitchell onto its panel.

Weekly.

He then pops up on QIHave I Got News For YouMock the WeekThe Big Fat Quiz of the Year (presented by self-confessed shit-eater Jimmy Carr). Jonathan RossThe One ShowThe Graham Norton ShowLily Allen And Friends. The man has no shame.

Open the Guardian. I dare you. Because if you do, you’ll see a fat, gap-toothed smug face staring out at you inviting you to listen to why he thinks the world is a big pile of shit and how you can save it by buying some Premium Bonds, or why we should stop slagging off his friend Elizabeth Allen, or 8 Hilarious Olympic Lampoon Movies, etc.

If you don’t believe me that this man is ubiquitous, then take a look at his probably self-penned Wikipedia entry.

I’m playing it safe. I’ve stopped reading The Guardian. Or watching the telly. Or listening to Radio 4. David Mitchell craves publicity more than Adolf Hitler, and I for one have no interest in saluting him any time soon.

In response to the above comparison, I fully expect him to write a widely-celebrated article about how we always compare complete gits to Adolf Hitler. He may as well. I won’t be reading it.

(end post)

Not expecting anyone to read it, I forgot about it until today. When I noticed a scathing response by a Whomo Tumblrist called gallium-knight.

His response, which I will post below, doesn’t seem to have any discernible purpose other than to wish me to choke on my own bile. I don’t regularly bring up bile, nor have I ever produced enough that I would end up pulling a Jimi Hendrix/dead bloke from AC/DC.

“It takes a sort of radiant, once-in-a-generation sort of mind to compare a British comedian with Hitler. It’s made all the more brilliant because I’ve never gotten tired of hearing everyone compare everything else with Hitler. Trademark brilliant writing: hyperbole meets cliche.

How dare David Mitchell appear on talk shows he’s been invited to. Bastard. I hope he chokes on his beard; but not as much as I hope you choke on your bile, Ghostlanguage.”

First of all, ‘gotten’ is not a word, except in American vernacular, which is inherently incorrect.

Secondly, I’d like you to name another Hitler/UK comedian comparison. Please do.

Finally, ‘cliche’ is not a word either. You’ve actually made up a new word that rhymes with quiche. Hyperbole Meets Cliche sounds like a Louis Theroux documentary where an illiterate meets a complete twat from the United States. Like your good self.

His response was posted under ‘A Brief Demonstration Of Terrible Writing’. Couldn’t have been more apt.