Tuesday, 31 August 2010

MY HIT LIST#5 Hill Street Blues

Hill Street Blues was first shown in January 1981 on NBC in the US; it ran for seven seasons ending in 1987. Unusually for it’s time it was loosely based around numerous major characters and a number of returning minor characters. This idea was frowned upon by TV executives at the time but has been adopted by quality dramas such as The Wire and The Sopranos since. It was slow to develop a following but by series three the tone had begun to change and it headed in a more dramatic direction. At this point its popularity soared. Hill Street revised the concept of police dramas by introducing continuing story lines, giving individuals starring roles and having believable and compelling story lines.
HSB Theme

The brain child of Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll, the Hill depicted 'day to day' events in an honest way that had not really been seen on TV cop shows before. Every other TV Police Drama owes a debt to The Hill.

It’s hard to quantify the importance of this show, from it’s depth of characters, to its poignant and iconic theme tune. A sketch of some of the characters that defined the show are;

Capt. Frank Furillo
the Captain of Hill Street and the glue who held everyone together. Many a management style is characterised by the question "how would Frank handle this?"

Joyce Davenport
Public Defender Joyce, was also Furillo's girlfriend and wife an adversary and confidante.

Sgt. Lucy Bates
a tough street wise cop, with a gentler flip side.

Fay Furillo
Frank’s wife and mother to his son Frank Jr. Frequent visitor and agitator.

Det. John (J.D.) LaRue
Recovering alcoholic, chancer and ladies man 'JD' was partnered with Neal Washington. Beneath his habitual mistakes there lay a great cop.

Det. Neal Washington
The cool cop who was nearly always right about things. JDs conscience and a real cops cop

Sgt Phil Esterhaus
His 'roll call' spawned the immortal catchphrase "Let's be careful out there."

Capt. Ray Calletano
the Latin Lieutenant struggled to balance his inter turmoil with his leadership but became more radical.

Det. Sal Benedetto/ Lt. Norman Buntz
Dennis Franz has a distinction in the show as he played Sal Benedetto, in the first series and later returned playing Lt. Buntz. A great character (both times)

Officer Andy Renko
The tough red neck with a temper, eager to judge a situation, he often made mistakes but underneath the tough exterior was a decent guy.

Officer Robert 'Bobby' Hill
'Cowboy' Renko’s partner, the two had an enduring relationship with many ups and downs.

Officer Joe Coffey
Super cop and compulsive gambler in a dramatic storyline he loses his life when he stumbles on a robbery

Lt. Howard Hunter
Howard 'heads up' the EAT (Emergency Action Team) Squad this former military man is always ready with a tactical solution.

Lt. Henry Goldblume
The flip side of Howard Hunter. A sensitive and deeply dedicated community affairs officer. None more scrupulous

Det. Mick Belker
The perfect undercover cop, he is one of the most memorable characters in a show full of them.

The show also had a number of 'future stars' appearing in minor roles and their quality is what added to the overall depth of the show. some of those actors; Wesley Snipes,Forest Whittaker,David Caruso, Lyndsey Cruise, Jennifer Tilly, Danny Glover, Andy Garcia, James Remar,Michael Biehn and Tim Robbins to name a few

There’s two kinds of Cop shows on TV; those before Hill Street Blues and those after.

Link to 4OD full length versions
I would advise starting around season 3/4

Monday, 30 August 2010

MY HIT LIST # 4 The Conformist

A meditation on fascism and beauty, Bernadro Bertolucci's The Conformist is revered for its sumptuous visual style and beautifully extrovert artistic cinematography. It is a combination of film noir, Freudian drama, and political commentary.

The hero, Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), joins Italy's fascist party, is married to a bourgeois woman, and agrees to assassinate his former mentor, a university professor, in order to become a normal member of society. But Clerici’s morality is sufficiently in tact that he begins putting off the murder in true Hamlet fashion.

With a bloody outcome and nonlinear narrative, the message seems clear; as Clerici's smug, self-satisfied attitude unravels, Bertolucci wants Italians to answer for their own behavior during the past fascists regime.

Most arresting is the films visuals. It is a stunning piece of Cinema and seems to be a catalogue of images styles and techniques from cinema history.

The European art movie can be inaccessible and overly ambiguous but the Conformist can be admired for its look as well as its meaning. It's influence can be seen in films ranging from The Godfather to Blade runner. It really is an extraordinary and beautiful film.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

MY HIT LIST # 3 One from The Heart

Francis Ford Coppola's One from the heart is beautiful. I say beauty in the sense that you almost fall in love with it. Its vibrancy and neon saturated colour, its sheer art of set and design, its wonderful Oscar® nominated soundtrack from Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle; its musical longing and delicacy. But it is a flawed beauty.

title song

I could just talk about the soundtrack as it is an amazing accompaniment to the visuals and I would recommend you listen to it on its own sometime, preferably late in the evening.

Entirely shot on marvelous sets in Coppola's Zoetrope studio the film was met with indifference amid stories of the production going out of control. It is a technically amazing movie with the stunning work of Vittorio Storaro, and clearly a labour of love from Coppola. Much in the same way, as with Apocalypse now, his vision may have been over indulged leaving an imperfect end result, however there is much to admire.

Alongside One from the heart Coppola stepped into another musical format with the Cotton Club; also flawed. But his talent is clear to see. The story of 'heart. is of a Las Vegas couple (Teri Garr, Frederic Forrest) whose break-up on independence day leads them to the Vegas strip in search of romantic fantasy in the form of Raul Julia and Nastassia Kinski. From then on its about gambling on love. There are extravagant musical set pieces amid the neon explosion of colour and sound.
One critic described it perfectly; 'a cinematic valentine for all movie lovers'. To my mind real beauty is flawed.


Saturday, 28 August 2010

annoyance and loathing in the UK

annoying people

The Independent Newspaper ran an article regarding the ten most hated people in the UK the list was in no particular order but was based on a number of factors largely perceptions, perceived wrong doing and smugness. Of course it's not hatred, it's annoyance. The ten in question were

• Mary Bale-cat binner
• Ashley Cole-avaricious love cheat slash national let down
• Sir Fred Goodwin-RBS bounder
• Peaches Geldof-0.0 grade point average
• Katie Price-inspirational author and icon
• Wendy Lewis-pissing on the cenotaph pissing off the nation
• Jeremy Kyle-Bear baiter in chief
• Duchess of York-spendaholic
• Simon Cowell-smug impresario
• Tony Hayward-BP’s Polluter maximus
A list of varying sorts, most hated due to how they have been represented in the media, some because they make money off of the gullibility of the masses. Others based on a perceived lack of talent and general lack of substance. There’s also the capitalist hatred vote.

Couldn't agree more on pathetic Peaches the Boomtown imbecile,but where, I ask myself, are the following people all of whom make me want to reach for a AK47?

• That bloke ’Adam’ (Kris Marshall) from the BT adverts- a pot purri of cliché
• Jeremy Clarkson-middle aged, middle class middle Englander with status issues
• Lembit Opik-dolly bird debacle expert
• Andrew Stone (Pineapple Dance studios)-makes Louie Spence (Pineapple Dance studios) seem like Stephen Fry
• Chris Moyles-behemoth of banality and bravado
• James Corden-just take a pause mate, please
• Axl Rose-caterwauling ex used- to- be
• Lady GaGa-talentless twerp
• Nick Griffin-that nervous laugh, that uncomfortable grin
• Nick Knowles-just put up some shelves and STFU

Annoyances the lot of 'em!

MY HIT LIST #2 The Girl can't help it

The Girl Can't help it starring Jayne Mansfield and Tom Ewell is glorious Deluxe color and cinemascope fun with a great soundtrack featuring performances from Fats Domino, The Platters, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Julie London and Nino Tempo. A pretty amazing lineup. The plot, such as it is centres around Mansfields gangster moll.  Mansfield gives a Monroeesque performance as the girl who can't help it.

In this satiric barb at 1950s culture Edmond O'Brien plays mob boss Murdock, who while serving a term in federal prison becomes a singing sensation with his hit tune "Rock Around the Rock Pile."  From there he attempts to turn Mansfield into a star. The scene in which Jayne Mansfield wreaks havoc by simply walking a street filled with excitable men, accompanied by Little Richard's title track, sums up the energetic fun of the movie. It's as colourful as a Cartoon and has a gorgeous sheen that is exactly right for the times and the material.
No it's not a masterpiece of cinema it's just exactly what it aims to be; a heck of a lot of vibrant rock 'n' roll fun!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Ultimately doomed

Ultimate big brother is the ultimate example of terrible television. When John Logie Baird utilised the cathode ray he probably envisaged the television as a tool to educate and inform the world. Had a ghost of Christmas to come turned up on his doorstep and shown him Ultimate BB he would have summarily burnt his papers and emigrated to Timbuktu.When a culture starts to devour itself it's a sure sign of the imminence of the four horsemen. The moment when UK culture imploded was when this show was commissioned. It's broadcast is the lowest point of a televisual and social culture that was on the ropes anyway. It is the most banal am excruciating example of televisual detritus. The residents have lowered themselves by appearing on the show in the first place. By returning for a second helping it shows that the Victorian bear baiting and Roman gladiatorial arenas are alive and kicking in 21st century Britain. These so called celebrities are so hungry for attention that they are prepared to go under public scrutiny 24/7 for a career boost at any cost. Channel 4 is  the undertaker pall bearing the corpse of British television. It's not even about it's lack of depth it's the lack of heart. And without a heart there is no hope.

MY HIT LIST #1 Dead Man's shoes

Paddy Considine stars as Richard, an ex soldier returning to his hometown, his reason for returning, revenge for an incident involving his younger brother. Those responsible for the crime are a incompetent bunch of petty drug dealers, men who have 'big fish small pond' syndrome. Richard stalks them appearing in their homes and in their business. He gets retribution in a number of disturbing ways. The film slowly reveals the root of Richard's anger over what happened to his brother,played by Toby Kebbell. From this realisation it is clear that the gang have received the ultimate punsihment.

Considine is utterly menacing, and a magnetic presence. Former boxer Gary Stretch is excellent as the leader of the gang, his physical presence makes for a believable leader and nemesis.

Blacker than black comedic sequences, jarring visuals, bloodshed and violence and high levels of tension characterise the disturbing nature of this movie, however the atmosphere of disquiet is essential to the overall feel of a thoughtful and frightening piece of work from Director Shane Meadows.Unmissable. 

dms-who you looking at?



Thursday, 26 August 2010

Barbarians at the gates of Selfridges

'we who are about to buy'
Now I wrote about the whole Roman sandal 'fashion' some months ago; an ugly and uncomfortable look foisted on the Masses by some ideas with bright ideas. Much to my dismay this footwear's ubiquity has now gotten ridiculous. I say this as whilst at the airport making my way back to the UK I spotted a young women wearing a pair of Nike Gladiator sandals! I mean, this is getting out of hand.
Maybe the whole gladiator theme is a representation of today's dog eat dog life in the urban arena, or maybe the big companies have twigged that you can make two pairs of these monstrosities using the same amount of leather/faux suede/plastic as would normally go into one pair of shoes.
I await with bated breath the expansion of the Gladiator range to include designer breast plates, funky shoulder bags come shields and umbrellas that have steel axes, tridents and swords attached at the end.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

advert break adidasstarwars

may the three stripes be with you

Polish Movie Posters

In 1968 the first poster museum in the world was opened in Warsaw. Two years earlier, Poland had held the First International Poster Biennial. The proximity of those two events was no coincidence. At that time, Poland was known for being the centre of "wall and board" art. Its distinct character and artistic value meant that the world soon began to speak of the Polish poster school.
Before the era of globalised entertainment made movie posters look the same in every country, Polish artists were creating their own versions for the internal market. What resulted was a whole school of artists trained in the art of the poster.
The style and inventiveness of these posters was not just restricted to 'highbrow' movies but  also utilised to advertise mainstream fare from Disney to Weekend at Bernies and from Star Wars to Superman. These posters are a great example of an artistic Polish culture meeting the western film industry and creating a hybrid form.  

Link to site showcasing Polish movie posters