Month: November 2017

Salvador – tape 871

On this tape, Oliver Stone’s Salvador. There’s an introduction by Lynda Myles as part of the Film Club.

James Woods plays a photojournalist, not a very good one, still trading on the book he wrote ten years ago about Vietnam.

As a last throw of the dice, he travels to El Salvador, deep in a divisive election, mainly to live the good life. “You can get a virgin to sit on your face for $7” he tells colleague Jim Belushi, to entice him there.

Woods has a girlfriend there, and some children. His girlfriend Maria is played by Elpidia Carillo, from Predator.

Also in the cast, Michael Murphy as the US Ambassador

And John Savage as another photojournalist.

As with many Oliver Stone films, this is very angry at the political injustices. Slightly less angry at the idea of sex tourism, though.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 20th January 1990 – 22:25

After this, there’s a trailer for Tender Mercies, and then the recording ends.

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Inspector Morse – The Late Show – Clochemerle – tape 817

Up first on today’s tape, a Channel 4 repeat of Inspector Morse: Ghost in the Machine. There’s a very brief appearance from my old school friend Claire Skinner as “Girl Pupil” in the first scene. According to iMDb it’s her second credited role, and she only appears in this one scene.

Lots of grey haired men are receiving urgent phone calls about a college election. It’s fairly typical Morse setup.

Patricia Hodge plays Lady Hanbury.

The housekeeper is played by Patsy Byrne, Nursie from Blackadder.

This episode marks the first appearance of Amanda Hillwood as the pathologist Dr Grayling Russell.

Morse actually does the whole “But you’re a… But that body up there…” thing when he meets her. In a programme made in 1989.

Luckily for Morse, the whole case hinges around a fake alibi about a concert at Covent Garden which he happened to attend himself.

After this, there’s a segment from The Late Show previewing Twin Peaks. Gosh, everyone was so excited by Twin Peaks when it started (me included).

There’s also a piece on young black stand-up comedians. There’s an amusing opening, with comedian Angie Le Mar watching Lenny Henry on TV. She asks her young son “Who’s that?” and he replies “Eddie Murphy”.

Also featured are Curtis & Ishmael

Buddy Hell

Mike Allain

David Bryant, co-founder of the Black Comedy Club

Kevin Seisay (seen a while ago on Paramount City).

TV Supremo Charlie Hanson

Jeffison & Whitfield

After this, there’s the first episode of a repeat run of Clochemerle, a comedy written by Galton and Simpson and narrated by Peter Ustin0v. Among the cast are Bernard Bresslaw.

and Roy Dotrice

It’s rather whimsical. Not many laughs, though, and the sexist way it refers to the young women of the village as ‘attractions’ is awful, especially when one is introduced by literally zooming in on her cleavage. The 70s were a different time.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th October 1991 – 21:00

After this, there’s a trailer for BBC Radio 3’s Japan season. Then there’s the start of The Power and the Glory about motor racing. There’s something slightly chilling about seeing Ayrton Senna talking about drivers ‘taking the wrong risks’ on the track.

The tape ends after 15 minutes of this programme.

The Media Show – tape 899

Another episode of The Media Show opens this tape, but not before a Firework’s Night theme for the Channel 4 logo.

This is a special New York themed episode of the show, and to prove it, Emma Freud has to do a piece to camera from Times Square.

I do not understand what possesses grown people to wear sunglasses like this. Unless they’re arc-welding immediately after the interview.

This being New York, there is, inevitably, a mention of Donald Trump. Which I mention only in the hope that, perhaps, the blog can wield its power. A piece about the media in New York presents him as someone who loves appearing in the media, so here’s a gallery, including this headline.

And frankly, if this lot doesn’t finish him off, there’s no justice in the universe. Emma Freud even does a piece to camera outside Trump Tower.

The next piece is about the origins of the story that became Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.

Also interviewed are Giancarlo Esposito

And Danny Aiello

The next part looks at the mayoral election, the contest between David Dinkins

and Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani’s campaign was orchestrated by the hideous Roger Ailes. I’m amused that one of his negative ads is about Dinkins’ tax returns.

He also ran divisive, racist ads.

He also got comedian Jackie Mason to campaign for Giuliani, which backfired.

After this, something different, with an episode of Sticky Moments with Julian Clary.

After this, back to The Media Show which first looks at a crisis in Australian TV.

Then there’s a look at the voiceover artists who supply screams for horror films.

“I did a horse with anthrax”

Then there’s a look at Blackeyes by Dennis Potter. Some feminist writers talk about Potter’s work including Germaine Greer

Kathleen Potter

Fay Weldon

Judith Williamson

Joan Smith, Author of Misogynies.

Jo Brand

Kathy Acker

Everyone here is being so amazingly polite about Potter, even as they are all pointing out his many, many shortcomings as a writer.

Germaine Greer nails it, I think. “I don’t think he’s trying to get inside a woman’s head. I think he knows better than that. There’s no place for him in there.” She also calls him a “Male, British, uptight, constipated sexist”.

The final piece looks at Israeli camera crews covering the occupied West Bank.

To close the show, there’s news of a remarkable new television series, whose pilot episode is coming to video – Twin Peaks.

After this, the recording stops, and underneath there’s part of a recording of Hitchock’s Vertigo. The tape ends during this.

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Film 92 – tape 920

Ah, Film 92, you are like a sweet balm, cleansing me of my irritation at some of the stuff I’m watching, and always something I can look forward to.

In this episode, Barry Norman reviews:

I should note the slightly synchronicity of Strictly Ballroom being one of the films under review – I’m writing this just after having watched the Blackpool round of Strictly Come Dancing in which Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton did a Paso Doble inspired by the film’s closing number.

In addition to the reviews, Tom Brook reports on the marketing of Sneakers. It’s unintentionally hilarious, as Tom Brook explains what amazing marketing gimmick they came up with to market the movie to computer users.

“The studio arranged for hundreds of thousands of computer users around America, who subscribed to an online bulletin board called CompuServe, to link up with the film’s director Phil Alden Robinson. People were invited to ask him all kinds of questions about the film. He responded by transmitting answers back through the computer network.”

Yes, he’s just described an AMA. Then they solicit the views of one of these ‘computer users’.

I find it rather hilarious, given how much of this is now so commonplace it wouldn’t be worth remarking on. Enjoy.

There’s a tribute to Denholm Elliot.

There’s also a look at the video release of Fatal Attraction, and the way the ending was revived to make it more upbeat.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 12th October 1992 – 22:10

After this, there’s a superb trailer for Omnibus about Ridley Scott.

Then, another episode of Film 92, and this week Barry looks at:

His review of the Buffy movie annoys me, as he keeps referring to Buffy et al as Bimbos. Oh, Barry. Plus the clip they showed contained quite a massive spoiler.

There’s a look at whether Laserdisc will finally become the home movie format for the masses. I’m amused by the assertion that Laserdisc ‘almost matches 35mm’. Not sure that was true, given it was only standard definition.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 19th October 1992 – 22:10

After this, recording switches to a short clip from Cinemattractions about Candyman. Then it’s back to BBC 1 for more Film 92 and Barry’s opinions on the following films:

There’s a location report on Into the West. I once met Gabriel Byrne when he was filming Gothic at the house where I worked. Well, I say I met him. He was on the phone to someone, and he winked at me.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 26th October 1992 – 22:10

In the next episode, the films coming under scrutiny are:

There’s a preview of the London Film Festival, including looks at Peter’s Friends, The Public Eye, Honeymoon in Vegas and The Waterdance.

Also, Whoopi Goldberg talks about filming Sarafina in South Africa.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 2nd November 1992 – 22:10

After this, another brief detour, to The Big Breakfast and an interview with novelist and filmmaker Clive Barker by Paula Yates. It’s not very hard hitting.

Then back to Film 92, and Barry looks at the films:

There’s a set report on Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin.

There’s a tribute to Hal Roach, who died recently.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 9th November 1992 – 22:10

After this, recording switches to a Late Show item on the trend for families under siege in movies like Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Unlawful Entry.

After this item, recording stops, and underneath there’s some baseball. The tape ends during this.

Mr Bean – Hannah And Her Sisters – tape 892

This tape opens with a rarity for my collection – the end of an episode of Coronation Street (featuring a digger that almost demolishes the corner shop).

After this, Mr Bean, and I think it might be the first ever episode, particularly because it lacks Howard Goodall’s theme music.

The first sketch is the exam. Mr Bean takes an exam, with Paul Bown.

Rudolph Walker plays the invigilator

The next segment features Mr Bean trying to change into his swimming trunks in front of Roger Sloman.

The final segment is in church with Richard Briers.

Look at these graphics for ‘ITV Into the 90s’. Something more early 90s would be hard to imagine.

There’s the start of an episode of Taggart, then recording switches to the end of Cane Toads – Unnatural History.

There’s a trailer for Screenplay Firsts including The Unkindest Cut, Water’s Edge and Arrivederci Millwall.

Then, Hannah and her Sisters. At least it’s timely, as it opens with a Thanksgiving dinner.

Michael Caine plays a man who’s falling in love with his wife’s sister. Once more, Woody Allen is living the auteur theory of film.

Allen himself plays a comedy writer running a ‘Saturday Night Live’ style show. In the first scene he’s fretting over a sketch that Standards and Practices have decided is ‘too dirty’. He asks why. “Child molestation is a touchy subject with the affiliates” he’s told. Like Louis CK, his whole career seems to have been a cry for help, a letter from a serial killer begging to be caught.

Also problematic is Caine’s character, obsessed with Barbara Hershey, who is his wife Mia Farrow’s sister. Hershey is going out with grumpy artist Max Von Sydow (20 years her senior, another pattern) and Caine brings musician Daniel Stern to them, hoping to get him to buy one of Von Sydow’s paintings for his new apartment. But really he’s hoping to talk to Hershey, possibly ask her out. And then, in what is I presume supposed to be an amusing scene, we hear his voiceover telling him to play it cool, just ask her out to lunch, laugh it off if she says no, when he suddenly grabs her, starts kissing her and telling her he loves her.

Of course, this being a Woody Allen film, she’s not immediately repulsed, and they end up meeting in a hotel room. I understand that this is Allen’s reality, but is it really normal? Is infidelity really a romantic ideal?

Hershey’s relationship with Von Sydow is strange anyway. He’s the older man, ‘educating’ her. And it’s just creepy.

Anyway, also in the cast are Sam Waterston and Carrie Fisher

Dianne Wiest plays another Farrow’s sisters

There’s also a blink and you’ll miss it appearance from Julia Louis Dreyfuss (on the right)

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st January 1990 – 22:40

After this there’s a trailer for Hit and Run.

Then there’s the start of Heavy Metal Heaven with Elvira. I was really worried it was going to be AC/DC in concert, as their guitarist Malcolm Young has just died, but thankfully, it was Led Zeppelin. I don’t think I could take another hit for the blog, after the awful news that David Cassidy, who appeared in The Flash in an entry that went up yesterday, is currently very ill in hospital.

The tape ends a minute into this.

In the adverts, there’s a Persil advert which looks like it was made for being an internet meme.

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Legend – tape 879

Having been doing this blog for quite some time now, I’m losing track of what I’ve written about before. Or perhaps that’s just me getting old.

But I had a vivid memory of writing about Ridley Scott’s Legend before, although if I did, it’s not showing up as a search result on my blog, and this is the only listing in my database for the film.

I always think fondly of Legend because I saw it at a special preview in London. I can’t remember how I got the tickets – maybe I wrote to a magazine or something – but I was very excited to be seeing it, Ridley Scott’s next film after Blade Runner.

So, where do I start. How about the beginning, which comes in the form of a scrolling introduction that seems to go on for hours.

Tim Curry plays Darkness, lurking in his (I presume) underground lair, railing against the existence of Unicorns, creatures of pure good. He is, hands down, the best on-screen representation of a traditional devil.

He orders his chief goblin Blix (Alice Playten) to kill the unicorns and bring him the horns.

Meanwhile in the forest, Lili (Mia Sara) is frolicking about as if she’s just about to break into a Disney ‘I Want’ song, although given that the score for this version of the film is by Tangerine Dream, it would probably be a depressing German techno-anthem.

The goblins need ‘innocence’ to get to the Unicorns, so Lili is their bait. She’s in love with Jack, the forest boy, played by Tom Cruise.

He takes Lili to see the unicorns, for reasons not adequately explained, and she breaks a sacred rule by touching them. Worse than that, Blix and his goblins shoot a poison dart at the male unicorn, then pursue it, and cut its horn off.

This has an adverse effect on the forest, with it suddenly being covered in snow.

So Lili, realising it was somehow her fault, goes to fix things, as does Jack, separately. Along the way they meet various characters, like Gump, played by David Bennent, a sort of elf.

There’s also Screwball, played by Billy Barty

And the fairy Oona, played by Annabelle Lanyon.

Even Robert Picardo pops up, literally, under heavy prosthetics as Meg Mucklebones. His scene lasts for less than a minute and doesn’t seem to advance the story at all.

Darkness has become obsessed with Lili, and therefore has to corrupt her pure soul, which he does by giving her a goth makeover.

 

There’s a climax involving a lot of shiny plates, and a test of trust between Jack and Lili, but Love Conquers All, and everything ends happily.

 

It’s hard to get a handle on this movie, partly because the different versions differ in how well they work. This version is the US theatrical edition, which is why it has the Tangerine Dream score, and not Jerry Goldsmith’s score, which was used in the European theatrical version. I find the score very boring, and it renders most of the movie quite lifeless. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the much longer Director’s Cut, although I’d quite like to just to see if it works better. At the very least, I suspect I’d enjoy Goldsmith’s score more.

But my biggest problem with it is that it’s far too serious, even when it’s clearly supposed to be funny or whimsical. There’s scope for huge amounts of comedy with all the anciliary characters, even if the leads stay as dull as they are, but for some reason, none of the comedy really works. At times I wished that this had been directed by Terry Gilliam instead. He could get a lot of humour out of Ultimate Darkness, as he demonstrated in Time Bandits. This film needed a lighter touch.

The other problem here is having to watch it from a VHS recording. There’s one thing you can’t deny, and that is the film looks beautiful, but it’s hard to tell under the smeary wash of VHS. It really does need better presentation.

I desperately wanted to love this film when it came out, following as it did Blade Runner and Alien, but this is an example of how Ridley Scott is only as good as his source material. He can make anything look beautiful, but he can’t inject heart.

To leave this on a positive note, the prosthetic work was done by Rob Bottin, who previous did the effects on The Thing, and the work here is truly spectacular. I’ve already mentioned Tim Curry’s Darkness, with his ridiculously enormous horns, but all the creature designs are brilliant, even when they’re thrown away in less than a minute, like Robert Picardo’s Meg.

The photography and the production design are also amazing, although I wonder if it was hard to work on the forest set, because every single shot has pollen and dust floating through it, catching the light. Must have been a nightmare if you were allergic.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 31st December 1989 – 16:55

Following this, recording continues for a short time with a trailer for The Lane. The recording ends before the next programme starts.

The Flash – tape 815

Here’s the first episode of the 1990 series The Flash.

Barry’s family is pretty high-powered. His brother Jay is played by Tim Thomerson.

His father is M Emmet Walsh

Jay is the head of Central City’s motorcycle police group. Which is ominous when the first threat we see is a biker gang throwing bombs around and blowing up cars and buses.

The head of the biker gang is Nicholas Pike (Michael Nader) and of course he has a history with Barry’s brother Jay. They used to be partners until Jay got him thrown off the force. Now he wants revenge.

If I’m honest, the whole biker gang stuff leaves me cold. Also featured in this pilot is Iris West, but she’s so underwritten that it’s a relief when she breaks up with Barry. She’s played by Paula Marshall, and seems only to be there as a contrast to Amanda Pays’ Tina McGee.

They can’t resist doing a ‘symbol against the moon’ shot during the ‘big confrontation’ between Barry and Pike.

The next episode is actually episode four, Honor Among Thieves. It’s directed by Aaron Lipstadt, who made the entertaining, low-budget Android.

It guest stars Ian Buchanan off of the Garry Shandling Show.

After this, and sticking with things with a Danny Elfman theme tune, there’s part of a Wogan special interviewing the stars and director of Batman Returns. Interviewed here are Michelle Pfeiffer, who seems slightly ill at ease.

Michael Keaton talks about the injustice of having to change his name from Michael Douglas.

Tim Burton

Here are the interviews.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 1st July 1992 – 19:00

After this, there’s a trail for the first episode of Eldorado, then a trail for Crocodile Dundee which also has a plug for Eldorado.

Then there’s the start of an episode of Fighting Back in which she interviews tennis player Arthur Ashe, who had recently announced that he had contracted Aids from an infected blood transfusion.

It’s shocking to remember how deadly Aids was in the 90s. This interview was from July 92 and he died of Aids-related pneumonia in February 1993. We’re becoming complacent at the idea that Aids is now something that can be controlled, new treatments can lower HIV counts to undetectable levels, and people no longer have to die from it. But in 1992 that wasn’t true.

After some of this interview, the recording stops, and underneath there’s a movie featuring Glenda Jackson as Lady Hamilton, and Peter Finch as Nelson, iMDb tells me it’s Bequest to the Nation. The recording stops after fifteen minutes.

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