All Through the House: A DVD Cover Dissection

This man is glaring at his past as a spluttering posho and telling it to shut up. That past is dead, probably of lupus. This is his life now: looking angry all the time, putting people in their place in a croaky American drawl, and just barely dealing with the implausibly complex illnesses of an endless series of ungrateful patients with personal problems even worse than his own. When he’s not doing that he’s appearing on the DVD covers for his TV show, named after himself: House, or as the DVDs themselves insist on calling it, House M.D. (I believe this is to reassure people unfamiliar with the show that this is a medical drama, not a show about a bunch of people all living together with a grumpy disabled man.)

It’s difficult to portray such a conflicted, layered character on a DVD cover, which is why they make little attempt to do so. The covers follow the standard layout (which we’ve seen before), with the main character taking up the bulk of the space, the supporting cast relegated to little thumbnails probably taken from their acting resumés, and everything else a single colour wash which means you can distinguish the various seasons at a glance. If you want to know anything about the show (all news to me really because I don’t watch it), all you have to go on is the photo of the chap in the centre. Let’s see what he’s giving away.

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Sorry we’ve not been here for ages.

After an audacious and foolhardy claim that we’d be posting bimonthly on Sundays, we’ve managed a heroic one film review and then gone quiet. Maybe you think we’ve spent all that time since then working on an enormous and spectacularly intricate blog post, blowing everyone away and excusing the long hiatus.

No we haven’t. We’ve been doing other things instead. Here’s what we’ve been doing:

Chris has been gardening.

Jake has been slowly chewing a very tough steak.

Danny has been thinking about his legs.

Anoosheh has been in a mine.

Sam has been talking to a friend.

Sorry again for not posting in a while. Please entertain yourselves by re-reading our huge archive, which is several pages long. Once we’ve completed our activities we’ll be back on here producing content, albeit irregularly. From next year onwards we’ll be more productive, as we’ll all be unemployed until we’re 35.

Close Encounters of the Turd Kind: Super 8 Film Review

The Velvet Underground and Nico.

Is it bad reviewing to borrow from a bad review?

I hope not, because a line from Ian Nathan’s review of Super 8 (Directed by J.J.Abrams) in Empire Magazine will set up mine quite neatly. In his final summation, Nathan writes that Super 8 is a ‘homage to better times, and better movies.’ That solitary statement sounds reasonable enough so far (though ‘homage’ is a word to be distrusted – it too easily doubles up for ‘rip off’), but then…something incredible happens. A Gibbon, recently escaped from a chemical experimentation centre, picks up a rock and throws it at a pigeon, which loses all sense of direction and flies through a window into Empire’s offices. The Pigeon wreaks havoc, and smashes into Ian Nathan’s head – knocking him onto his key board and somehow, somehow, this awards Super 8 Four Stars. Four stars. I’m sure that’s the only way it could have happened, because in my incredibly balanced and level-headed review, I’m going to show that the movie is cheesier than a tramp’s cock, and maybe 3/4s as appealing.

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An Apology

The Emperor’s New World? Terrence Malick on Trial

It might seem to the casual observer like this blog is basically a big love-in, a sort of forum for the various writers to sit about high-fiving, giving each other back-rubs, and discussing our work using the phrase ‘really great’ a lot. Not only the content but also the blog’s name may contribute to this impression, and so it may surprise you to learn that occasionally we disagree (and not just about Mad Men, ages ago). Sure, maybe it’s only on a few things, and yeah, maybe afterwards we just go back to talking about how much we all hate The Golden Compass, and then high-five and maybe rub the odd back or two, but the fact remains that we are not the Five-Headed Sex Beast of Self-Congratulation we look at first glance. To prove it, and maybe get a little stimulating discussion going, we’re going to air some of our disagreements on this here blog.

First in the dock is the famously reclusive and slow-working auteur Terrence Malick, who recently released the fifth film in his 38-year career, The Tree of Life. I haven’t yet seen it, mainly because I did see his previous film, The New World. If it seems a bit redundant to discuss that film when he’s just brought out a new one, maybe the following will go some way towards explain why I haven’t yet been able to drag myself into the cinema to sit through his stuff a second time. After my rather bitter rant, like I’ve taken the film as a personal affront to me for some reason, Danny will argue in favour of that pretentious hack’s snore-a-thon, sorry, visionary auteur’s masterpiece. But that’s for later – first it’s me, quietly and modestly, for the prosecution.

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Luther? More like, err, erm, I got nothing

God I love TV, I like it more than any of my own family or friends. Bloody hell I like it more than I like myself. I don’t give a fuck about the Israel-Palestine conflict, but I do care when Mad Men series 5 is going to air… Gaddafi can do what he likes as long as he doesn’t interfere with Boardwalk Empire’s production… and by all means increase tuition fees as long as it doesn’t mess with Doctor Who’s scheduling.

Like most people I favour the big-budget American shows, be they HBO or HBO-esque ones. It’s just an empirical fact that they’re better – better production, better direction, better writing, just plain better. My most recent fix was Game of Thrones, a show that combined my two passions of involving drama and unnecessarily naked women. However with that gone, and with most of the truly good shows not returning until autumn, I found myself at something of a loss. As such I turned my attention to what old Blighty had to offer in the quality drama stakes. What I discovered was Luther, one of the BBC’s most popular and high profile shows of recent months, which last Tuesday concluded its second series.

The show centres around the character of John Luther, played by The Wire’s Idris Elba, an intelligent, tough, morally unbending detective, as he hunts only the most grizzly and gratuitious of serial killers. He’s a good man in a bad world who goes outside the law to keep the law or something like that. I should establish at this point that Luther, as in the show itself, is really bad, it’s almost so bad it’s good, but it’s actually so bad it’s bad.

Luther taking a well earned rest

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‘Tis a Silly Place: Camelot

On my way to bed last night, I decided that before I turned in I would watch something that would help my brain switch off, preferably something glossy and utterly mindless. After a quick browse through iPlayer and 4od, I managed to find something so mindless I can’t even say for certain whether anyone involved in making it is technically alive. After it was over I was comatose for 14 hours.

The show I’m referring to is a brand new medieval fantasy from Starz Entertainment, the good people behind the David Starkey documentary Spartacus: Blood on the Sand (I’m kidding – it’s not actually a documentary and Starkey only briefly cameos as a mighty gladiator rutting in the background during one of the orgy scenes). Entitled Camelot, it’s a retelling of the Arthurian legend, large in scope and ‘adult’ in tone. Everyone knows what adults do – they have sex and they swear and they hit each other with swords, and Camelot does its best to faithfully represent this behaviour, whether or not it’s appropriate or makes any dramatic sense. Continue reading