Tag Archives: Charlie Brooker

Kicking Corpses in the Balls

Despite the recent activity on this blog suggesting otherwise, one of the topics I sometimes cover is books. At the moment I’m worming my way through “The Hell of it All” by Charlie Brooker, a delightfully despondent columnist and TV critic for The Guardian and presenter of BBC Four shows that end in ‘wipe’ – cases in point, screenwipe, newswipe and gameswipe. His books generally consist 300 pages of his regurgitated publishings of the past few years, the one I am reading at the moment covers TV and other topics that Brooker has written about over since 2007 and I am attempting to blend some of his sardonic humour and insults into my own writings, though I’m probably failing……..you prick. In any case, Brooker’s Channel 4 show ‘You Have Been Watching’ returns tonight at 10pm on the aforementioned channel, I highly recommend it.

Are there no ideas any more? I can’t help being a little put out hearing about each and every latest smash hit TV show or book without being disappointed at how similar they all are to old film or television concepts, or worse yet classic literature. A quick example is Glee, a show which I love, but is so much like High School Musical, which is in turn simply a modern reimagining and Frankenstein-esque merging of Grease and Footloose, that I keep expecting them to announce some weird crossover.

At the moment, vampires are the main source for balls-out rippoffery, I have been subjected to both Twilight films – which use the concept of vampires but, in a feat of deformity worthy of the Saw franchise, twist them to fit the mould of the modern drama. Firstly, I know Twilight is originally a book series, but as far as I can reason (albeit by making the bold assertion that the themes of the books have been accurately portrayed on screen) the Twilight series, in all it’s forms, is simply seeding the shallow, generic childhood fantasies into another generation o young girls by a combination of “white horse” stereotypes and familiar backdrops, with a female protagonist so passive Emily Davison must be spinning in her grave, who was killed by a horse if anyone’s interested in dark symbolism. Twilight is offensive to men on every level, apart from it perpetuating a delusion about romantic encounters onto young women, each film (and, from narrative, each book) lack any satisfactory conclusion: there are practically no action scenes or nudity, the two things men want from a film (and any man who says otherwise is a lying bastard) – upon mentioning this (the lack of action sequences, at least) to the people I saw it with, they (the girls anyway) insisted that it was part of the setup for the next film…

No. When Sherlock Holmes heard the name Moriarty, that was setting up for the next film. When Commissioner Gordon hands Batman the Joker playing card, that was setting up for the next film. When Harry Osbourne found his late father’s Green Goblin gear, THAT was setting up for the next film. All of these were preceded by a whole other storyline that came to a close after a FUCKING BATTLE! Having a pissy little vision of the future and the film’s antagonist letting them go does not count as a set up, it’s not even a cop out. It’s nothing. What’s worse is that, having skimmed the Wikipedia plot summaries of the books that haven’t yet been made into films, there is no final battle sequence – and the antagonists simply change their minds and go, there I’ve just saved you time otherwise wasted reading the books. Yeah, I’m a book fan advising you not to read something – what of it?

REAL Vampire

Anybody see a fucking difference here!

Bite her fucking neck, Pattinson!

This is turning into a Twilight rant so I’ll make some comparisons, I am just starting Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ – the best known fictional work involving the concept of Vampires, haemovoric creatures of folklore. A good comparison is the ability of Stephenie Meyer’s “vampires” to go out in daylight, providing they take sufficient measures to stop normal people noticing that their skin sparkles like a drunk tinkerbell. As far as my baffled comprehension of the Twilight series can tell, this makes the “vampires” essentially immortal, which makes me wonder why Meyer didn’t just kick Stoker’s corpse in the balls and have done with it. In “Dracula”, the fact that sunlight is lethal to the antagonist character is a revelation, it takes this previously powerful and apparentely indestructable character and unveils his flaws, a literary staple that prevents weak endings by authors who have made a villain too powerful to feasibly stop. Meyer is a terrible writer because she avoids this, spending all of her time building up these immensely powerful supernatural characters, leaving the characterisation and plot so desolate you can hear my imagination echoing in the wasteland. Hence we end up with these one-dimensional characters and pathetically weak endings to each book and the overarching series simply because Meyer spent all her time going “look at these vampires and these werewolves, aren’t they cool!” before hastily adding “oh and someone did a thing, the end” when the now too-powerful villains agrees to let them go, simply because Meyer spent too much time on the character’s power and romantic stereotypes and not enough on story.

A quick note to any trigger-happy commenters who are bound to say something about me not being in a position to comment on the Twilight series having never read the books in full – and that may be true. But then again, I’ve never shot myself in the head but I have a notion that it’s a pretty bad idea, maybe you should try it, let me know.

I love sounding angry in blog posts.

Stuff

Good Evening, Good Evening, Good Evening and welcome back my fickle readership to matgreenfield.com. Having successfully bullshitted my way through algorithms, blundered my way through Programming, breezed through Commercial Software and bamboozled a board game – the time usually devoted to work and/or procrastination is, albeit temporarily, free for the production of more written content for this blog. Lovely. As such, to make up for the lack of posts, and because I’ve been inhibiting my own desire to write for the past few weeks, I am giving you lovely people an inveritable avalanche of topics under one post!

Playstation Move – and Sony’s new TV range, the Bravia Watch, and new eReader, the Sony Reader Read (I could go on for a while)

What the fuck has happened to gaming? The move from sedentry sit and button mash gaming to motion sensitive controllers has been apparent for many years and I had hoped we’d advanced enough along the natural progression of a new technology to the level of the upcoming Project Natal. But apparentely not, Sony has refused to even attempt to compete by bringing out a range of motion-sensitive controllers and dragged everything back a step. Nintendo, having only become a serious console contender a few years ago, has always been perceived as a casual gamers console, not the kit for serious fraggers who opt for either the PS3 or the XBox 360 – where the competition had always been – so Nintendo can afford to not try and dominate the market of motion sensitivity. Microsoft’s announcement of Natal, a system that aims to remove controllers from the equation altogether and have players control the game with their bodies in an intuitive (ie. not EyeToy) way was a groundbreaking step. What was the thought process of Sony execs when they were trying to find a way to compete with Natal and, after much brainstorming and deliberation, decided to do something that Nintendo did three years ago, badly, with a garish dildo complete with vividly coloured testicle.

It just feels like Sony have given up, not only did they produce something totally bland and unorignal AND give it a crappy design, they couldn’t even be bothered to make up a proper name for it – the Sony Move – which sounds like a cross between a barked command and a desperate plea to buy this heap of junk.

But if they really want to call such a phallic device after what they expect people to do with it, why not just call it the Playstation Wank and have done with it – in more ways than one.

Digital Britain – Well, we’re clearly not

Soooooo much to say on this topic that it will have to fill a post of it’s own, stay tuned…

Oranges, Nostalgia, Picturesque and Cynicism

As you’d expect, my coursework has severely depleted my reading, moreso than usual, but I have managed to dish up a few quips. Firstly, I have long-since finished Screen Burn by Charlie Brooker and found it to be a delightfully dejected book, despite it essentially being four years of Brooker’s weekly Guardian columns packaged into one book, starting at 2000 so the TV shows he reviews are a tad outdated and exist as a mere wisp in my memory – the first one mentions the departure of Ricky Butcher in Eastenders who, as I understand it, has since returned, left and returned once again. I have since purchased Brooker’s ‘The Hell of it All’ which is the same format but was released this year and opens in 2007, perhaps something I can be more atuned to.

I have finished reading the T.S. Eliot collection that any readers dedicated (and borderline obsessed) enough will remember me grappling with last year. My understanding of poetry was, as I anticipated, largely due to the assistive nature of my college teachers and I failed to grasp, I fear, a lot of the meaning. However, what I did understand made me have to pause for reflection – convenient then that I was sitting by the Student Village (my halls of residence) pond at sunset where the vista would’ve made Rolf Harris piss himself put me in a rather poetic mood for the rest of the day – I went out that night so it was shortly replaced with alcohol.

Oranges are not the only fruitI have since started reading, for perhaps the second or third time, Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson. This semi-autobiographical novels tells the story of a girl who has been a devout member of the Christian faith her entire life because of her adoptive mother, a frightfully narrow-minded person who clings . This girl grows up and becomes attractive to another female member of her church, and the novel deals with her own acceptance of her sexuality with her faith, as well as the complex reactions of those around her. The book has some seemingly over-exaggerated depictions of religious practises, but given that this is based on Winterson’s real experiences, this is likely not overstated – however, the book is not an plain and simple criticism of religion, as the protagonist maintains her faith throughout, but is simply a critique of people taking the teachings of religion, using Christianity as an example, too seriously and the impact that can have. The relationship is, unsuprisingly, tested by Jeanette’s revelation but a glimmer of hope at the end tempers the dramatic events of the book with an uplifting ending.

Alice in Wonderland: Burton does it again and it’s getting repetitive

I saw, just yesterday, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland – a continuation, of sorts, from the original Lewis Carroll original tale set 13 years later with a now young-adult Alice as the protagonist. Tim Burton brings his usual entourage to proceedings but I was unconvinced by their appearance – Johnny Depp plays The Mad Hatter but his performance is a far cry from the original eccentricity of the character and is instead that now all too recognisable ‘Depp Eccentricity’, not just for the costume similarities will you notice parallels between Depp here and his portrayal of Willy Wonka……or Jack Sparrow……or Sweeney Todd at one point. Bonham-Carter, at least, has some varieties in the characters she plays, unfortunately she doesn’t do anything with it and the part could just have easily been played as well by any actress. Stephen Fry has a vocal role as the Chesire Cat, besides being a huge Fry-fan, his normal British pomp is laced with something very dark that it’s unusual to hear in Fry’s voice – he does it beautifully but often British sounding dark can sound like a whine, Fry doesn’t manage to always avoid this but he does very well. Matt Lucas’ dual role as both the voice and face of the Tweedles was a masterpiece of casting that nobody could fault. The rest of the voice cast is padded out with the usual British treasures, including Alan Rickman, who somehow got starring credit despite being his character being on screen for all of three minutes.

Unsuprisingly, I recommend seeing it in 3D. As with Avatar, my feeling is that I would’ve been a bit disappointed has the 3D not looked so good, combine that with the finely detailed victorian setting at the start/end and the trippy Burton-esque Wonderland throughout and the result is quite spectacular – but an effect, I feel, wouldn’t have looked as wonderful in a mere two dimensions. The film itself is fairly predictable, but I think a lot of people will see this film with the misconception that it’s aimed at an older audience, it isn’t – it’s a kids film through and through so expect the predictable moral of the story, the puerile humour and all the other things associated with a kids film. Do I think adults will enjoy it? Absolutely, just bear in mind it’s still a kids film.

Sorry all, my pent up creative juices have run dry for today (which in a post entitled ‘Playstation Wank’ is never something you should close with) – much like the Artful Dodger, I’ll be back soon with more posts.

Now go wash your hands.

I’ve even managed a Chuckle Brothers joke

Since Christmas 2008, I have had the complete set of Sherlock Holmes stories in my pile of books to read. However, given the size of it I have always kept it as the crowning glory at the end of my tottering literary heap. However, as my book pile is far from a static object, I have been distracted and many other books have queue-jumped, leaving my Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle gathering dust at the bottom. Ironic then that such was my anticipation to read such a fantastic work (one of my principal aims in life is to read as many of the classic novels as possible), I neglected it so that I could enjoy it without the hanging-on of another upcoming book…

But now, reliving my A-Level English Literature days, I have seen the film rather than read the book (I know it’s not a direct adaptation of any story, allow me a cheap metaphor!).

However, though I am going to write about the film, which I loved, I feel unqualified (having yet to read the books) to speak with authority on it as an adaptation, not that that has ever stopped me, I am going to flex my cynicism muscles and resolve simply to take the piss out of it. This is mainly because I have been reading Screen Burn by Charlie Brooker, one of my main writing influences, and what to test his style. I did, despite the uncharacteristic callousness I am about to adopt, enjoy this film immensely. Right, and scene……

image

Did you know that Arthur Conan Doyle had meant for his two characters, the best literary double-act since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, to be men of around mid-thirties? Clearly Guy Ritchie did (aren’t you a little ashamed that you didn’t know something that Guy Ritchie did? My advice: kill yourself) and the Downey/Law pairing brought precisely the correct amount of brotherly love, exasperation and faint homoeroticism that made them believable as lifelong friends.

In yet another adaptation of a much-loved literary character, Robert Downey Junior, a man for whom I have an inexplicable urge to suffocate with a toilet brush made of his own stupid stubble usually, actually pulls off a decent performance in the title role. He’s no Basil Rathbone, even Jeremy Brett (who, to me, is as much the “definitive Holmes” as Lorraine Kelly is the definitive celebrity paedophile) would make Downey shit himself and then tell Jude Law precisely what the condition of his lower intestine is like based on the smell.

In many ways, Downey has the easy job, playing Holmes as a smirking ejaculation of wit and charisma. Though Holmes only drops the smugness (making me want to choke Downey all the more) for one brief moment to assume Downey’s only other facial expression, contemplative. The only reason he was chosen for Iron Man is that he could convincingly pull off the enigmatic Tony Stark with his face smirk before they realised and put in many more scenes behind the mask, so nobody would notice that his face has the emotive range of much harder role is that of Watson, played here by Dane-playing/Aftershave-promoting Jude Law. The good doctor is put in a previously unseen number of different positions, he is in love and balancing his future marriage (and unequivocal boredom, let’s be honest) and his clear knowledge that Holmes needs him, having to choose between helping his friend and what he wants. Law gives  a flawless performance and, combined with credit to the script writing, you can sympathise and understand why Watson still helps the smarmy bastard and comprehend their mismatched friendship.

The love-interest, Irene Adler, is played by the offputtingly-young Rachel McAdams. They needed to have a young, sexy femme fatalé of course, but could they really not find someone else who didn’t make Holmes look like he’s a dirty old man. Downey’s stupid tiny-beard didn’t help the sense that he was about to flash her, or negate, when they kissed, the awkward and slightly sickened feeling that you get from something like watching the Chuckle Brothers host a kids game show. Then again, Jude Law did have the moustache to match!

Visually, this film somehow manages to make Industrial-Revolution-era London seem remarkably vibrant and innovative, while still retaining the characteristic smog and grime that we come to expect. This is all down to the detail, simply by the poster you can tell that both Holmes and Watson wear very detailed clothing, and the interior scenes, such as the duo’s apartment, is so finely decorated that I’d wager we only saw half the set in shot and could spend a good few days exploring all the objects left. It combines the steam-power of Victorian Britain with the steam-punk of modern culture (coats circa Matrix et al) and makes a compelling and visually delicious setting.

The villain is Lord Blackwood, a walking and talking advert for the multiple applications of engine oil, including hair styling and making coats look extra shiny, who couldn’t be more quintessential villain if he tried. The villain that we REALLY wanted to see, Professor Moriarty (for the geeks, The Master to Holmes’ Doctor), remains in the shadows, seen twice and his identity finally revealed in a manner so bleeding obvious it doesn’t even warrant a spoiler alert. The conclusion of the film, that is: the foiling of Blackwood’s plot, is over incredibly quickly – but then it’s not really the action sequences  that the Baker Street Irregulars are there for, it’s the scene where Holmes details how he unravelled the mystery that here fleshed the film’s two-hour running time well and has made Holmes such an icon – the deerstalker probably helped too.

The setup of a sequel is so obvious that I half expected Downey to sit down with a pipe (no opium use by Holmes for a 12A rating I guess) and a magnifying glass and speculate aloud about the release date of the sequel and who would play Moriarty – really get the feel of interactivity. As I mentioned, Moriarty was heard but not seen, hiding in the shadows simply because they haven’t case him yet – rumours of Brad Pitt will only escape my scorn if he can pull off a British accent properly; if Downey can do it, anyone can.

My main concern in this film was the worry that they turned Holmes from a logical, observant and deductive genius into an action hero, which wasn’t helped by the trailer consisting of mostly explosions, gun-fire, stunts and, worse of all, magic. These fears were intermittent throughout, for a “modern audience” (in other words the people you see bellowing at pigeons outside clubs at 3 in the morning) and a Guy Ritchie film, you’d expect a lot of stunts and action sequences, which where there (though notably not exactly absent from the books either). I could forgive this as long as the original character traits are retained, a few more added I could handle, and I wasn’t disappointed. The best scene in the movie is when Downey puts his constantly arrogant face to good use as Holmes recounts the clues littered throughout the film that helped him reveal Blackwood’s fraudulence, but it wasn’t as delightfully subtle as the books. The whole fun of reading mystery novels is that the author is giving you clues in the text, in the way it’s written, minor details and subtle nuances that allow the reader to try and deduce the mystery themselves. Of course, this format cannot be emulated quite so well in motion picture, but this is done about as well as it could’ve been.

A valiant effort, making as much use of the format as possible to emulate the feel of the original. As a film it’s spectacular, as an adaptation of the characters it’s very good and true to the text, Ritchie has (by degrees) achieved what many would struggle with, combining classic literature with modern film goer expectations without betraying the original – kudos.

Now where’s my deerstalker gone?