Friday, 30 April 2010


Many years ago I lived in a part of London known as The Ladder with my then other half. We had the downstairs and the upstairs was owned by a young women who’s boyfriend was also young; a young Steve Coogan. He came across as unassuming and quiet, unlike the tabloid star of today.
Coogan is one of those people who have faced the media backlash that success in the UK seems to bring, but his work, when reflected upon is absolute quality. From the sheer observational genius of Alan Partridge to the vastly under rated Saxondale Coogan’s characters have been some of the best creations in modern comedy.
His forays into movies have been less successful as he has generally played versions of himself, in fact his best big screen outing was playing Steve Coogan in A Cock and Bull Story alongside the excellent Rob Brydon. He also played Tony Wilson and Phineas Fogg two larger than life characters but in very different ways.
Paul Calf and sister Pauline, along with Tony Ferrino and Duncan Thickett appeared in his live performances where his interactions with the audience elevated them from just stage shows.
One of the least seen shows featuring Coogan was 'I am not an animal' in which Coogan voiced the pretentious horse Philip Masterson-Bowie and Mark Anderson AKA Glen Belt the one one hit wonder Sparrow. Here's Belt's Number 1 hit single

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Customer service

Just watched an old Fawlty Towers and it reminded me of how great it was! here's the denouement from 'The Americans' episode

Basil Fawlty: "This is typical. Absolutely typical... of the kind of... ARSE I have to put up with from you people. You ponce in here expecting to be waited on hand and foot, while I'm trying to run a hotel here. Have you any idea of how much there is to do? Do you ever think of that? Of course not, you're all too busy sticking your noses into every corner, poking around for things to complain about, aren't you? Well let me tell you something - this is exactly how Nazi Germany started. A lot of layabouts with nothing better to do than to cause trouble. Well I've had fifteen years of pandering to the likes of you, and I've had enough. I've had it. Come on, pack your bags and get out."

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Wire history

Okay so everyone has written, discussed, watched and loved The Wire. Because it is simply the best.
Here though, are some prequels that show the history of some characters. Just for everyone still suffering from withdrawal

Bunk meets Jimmy 2000

Young Omar 1985

Prop Joe in 1962

Monday, 26 April 2010

TIM BURTON myth of originality

Tim Burton often hailed as a visionary filmmaker of great originality has gone from producing such charming and yes, original, movies as Edward Scissor Hands and Beetlejuice to regurgitating the ideas of others.

His best film I feel is Ed Wood which takes the story of the incompetent director and turns it into a fresh and warm film. However the bones of the story were already there as Ed Wood existed and was somewhat of a legend in the movie world (even for the wrong reasons). Since then Burton has, to me, become synonymous with rehashing other peoples work although this seems to be overlooked by critics.

Alice in Wonderland has been made in many formats and is hardly an original choice Planet of the Apes missed the subtlety of the original movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did not have the charm of the Version with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Sweeney Todd is a basic run through of the stage version. Batman had the terrible performance of Jack Nicholson as the Joker holding it back and Returns was hit and miss.

Mars Attacks, Sleepy Hollow and Big Fish are also taken from existing material so it would seem that it is a complete misnomer to accuse him of originality.

Where his strength seems to lie creatively is in his animated work which is excellent.

In choosing Johhny Depp as his muse Burton also limits himself to leading characters that are childlike and often irritating. It’s a shame that Burton gets kudos and is lauded when genuinely original filmmakers don’t receive comparable support.

Maybe one mans plagiarism is another mans originality.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

You don't mess with...

Characters that if you met in real life you would want to keep on their good side. No Willis, Schwarzenegger’s or Bond Villains just reality.

1. Paddy Considine as Richard in the superlative Dead Man’s Shoes
2. Vitali Baganov as Valery in The Sopranos season 3 Episode 11 Pine Barrens
3. Robert DeNiro as Michael in The Deer Hunter
4. Russel Crowe as Hando in Romper Stomper
5. Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather II
6. Michael Cane as Jack Carter in Get Carter
7. Stanley Baker –as Johnny Bannion in Criminal
8. Michael K Williams as Omar Little
8. Gbenga Akinnagbe as Chris Partlow in The Wire
8. Jamie Hector as Marlow Stansfield in The Wire
9. Eric Bana as Mark ‘Chopper’ Reid in Chopper
10. James Cagney as Arthur ‘Cody’ Jarrett in White Heat
Honourable mentions (as they look like they could have a tear up out of character) to
Robert Shaw as Mr. Blue/Bernard Ryder in The Taking of Pelham 123, Burt Lancaster as Joe Collins in Brute Force, Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde/Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs

Friday, 23 April 2010

a St George's day drink

Merry St George's Day!

Welcome to Twin Peaks

Cherry Pie, , The Log Lady, Killer Bob, Agent Cooper, Sheriff Truman, The Red Room, The Beautiful Audrey , Laura, Josie and Donna, Prostitution, the backwards talking Dwarf, Murder, Obsession, Hit men, The FBI, Giants with revelations and Damn fine coffee.

These things characterised the surreal world of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, a landmark in Television is released in a definitive gold version this month. From the opening bars of Angelo Badalamenti’s score we were drawn into the town of Twin Peaks to both be immersed into and bear witness to unfathomable events both horrifying and humorous.
David Lynch incorporated elements of improvisation that came about by accident, into his world view and the narrative defies pigeon holing. The casting was a split between Lynch discoveries and , prior to Tarantino, the use of veteran actors. The results made for must see TV, particularly during Season 1 but less so as season 2 stumbled to its conclusion. The thing about Twin Peaks was that it seeped into a public consciousness that, at the time, was extremely rare for what was essentially a cult BBC 2 show.
Twin Peaks incorporated the paranormal, horror, oblique comedic overtones, melodrama, Murder mystery and Soap Opera to tremendous effect. Due to it’s success other shows came in it’s wake attempting to subvert the mainstream, notably the unsuccessful Wild Palms, but these shows lacked the guiding force of David Lynch.
Lynch remains an enigmatic figure and the movie that followed; Twin Peaks: Fire walk with me is greatly under rated. In Film terms David Lynch is one of the few genuinely unique movie makers and this foray into TV was an inspiring example of how to challenge a TV audience and probably led the way for the rise of HBO.Damn fine TV

Thursday, 22 April 2010

A thing of beauty

‘No enemy plane will fly over the Reich Territory”-Goering

I recently visited the RAF museum in Hendon, it was full of amazing aircraft and served spam sandwiches with Spitfire beer. The most beautiful thing that i saw there was a P51 Mustang. It stood there gleaming in the sunlight and any views on war death and destruction could not cloud its sheer gorgeous design.

This one was flown by Captain Donald Emerson and displays seven Nazi kills on its side.
Partly designed to a British fighter requirement, the North American Mustang's original Allison engine gave it a disappointing performance. Fitted with a Rolls Royce-designed US Packard Merlin the P-51 achieved a new lease of life and flew on to be a war-winner, being one of the few daylight single seater fighters with the range and firepower to escort US bombers on daylight bombing raids into Germany.

Deadly but beautiful.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Dennis Franz

Dennis Franz is a one of a kind character actor who has maintained an unusual appeal, notably playing Cops and Detectives.

So good as Sal Benadetto he came back as another character, Norm Buntz in the groundbreaking Hill Street Blues, where he became something of the star of the show. He then moved on to play Andy Sipowicz in NYPD Blue for which he won a number of awards. Between these two heavy weight Cop shows he appeared in Hill Street spin off Beverley Hills Buntz where he teamed up with Sid the snitch for some not so successful detective adventures in Beverley Hills.

He also has made appearances in a number of films, notably directed by Brian DePalma; Karp in Blow Out and the sleazy detective Rubin in Body Double. With other roles as Toomey in Psycho II and Lorenzo in Die Harder.
He has appeared along side Shatner in TJ Hooker and as himself in the classic Simpsons episode Homer Bad man and continues to pop up in a variety of roles both on small and large screen.
I will always remember him as Norman Buntz the one of a kind cop with depth behind the bravado.