Month: May 2018

Hook – Body Parts – tape 1628

First on this tape, from The Movie Channel, is Steven Spielberg’s Hook. It was not particularly well received on its first release, although any doubts about Spielberg losing his magic touch were dispelled two years later, when he released Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in the same year.

My opinion of this movie has changed rather dramatically over the years. On release I didn’t like it, and broadly agreed with the critical consensus.

But, many years later, with young children of my own, we watched it again with them, and suddenly there were themes there that had never resonated with me before.

It’s still got a lot of problems, but the core themes play much better for me now.

The opening scene, with Robin Williams as Peter Banning watching his daughter playing Wendy in a school production has a really clunky line in it. His wife says to him “Watch your daughter, she’s stealing the show” a grindingly explanatory line. We also get the start of Banning’s obsession with his cellphone, having to take business calls during the show.

The scene where Peter is striding through the office, barking orders while being followed by his harried staff feels very much of its time, Wall-Street-lite. I still cringe a bit when Peter and another man do a stupid quick-draw thing with their phones in holsters. Mobile phones were clearly such a new thing that nobody had any idea how real people would end up using them.

Peter misses his son’s really important baseball game. His son Jack is played by Charlie Korsmo (from Dick Tracy). He’s now a Law Professor. His relationship with his father is the core of the story.

Once the story reaches London, where Peter is helping to dedicate a new wing of Great Ormond Street Hospital to ‘Granny’ Wendy, the film really kicks into high gear, really leaning into the well-known mythology of the Peter Pan story. Wendy, played by Maggie Smith, is Wendy Darling, the real Wendy Darling about whom JM Barrie wrote the Peter Pan story. Maggie Smith, I should point out, is wearing old age makeup here. She was quite a lot younger in 1991.

She asks what he does at work, and Jack describes his job as a corporate raider. “And he blows them out of the water” he says, no doubt echoing things Peter has told him. “Why Peter” says Wendy, “you’ve become a pirate.”

Peter, Wife Moira, and Wendy, go to the ceremony dedicating the new wing, and in the audience are many of the orphans who were looked after, and found homes, by Wendy, a scene that always moved me.

But while the ceremony is going on, something’s happening at Wendy’s house, where the children are sleeping. I do love the tiny hook on the bedroom windows.

They return home to find the glass in the door broken, and deeps scars in the walls. It’s all hugely atmospheric.

The children have gone, and there’s a note from Captain Hook demanding Peter Pan come and get them.

There’s a baffling cameo from Phil Collins as a rather stupid policeman. Collins was making a brief foray into acting at the time, so I guess that’s why.

Wendy tells Peter that the stories were true, and that he is Peter Pan. He had kept returning to see Wendy over the years, then one day, when Wendy herself was a grandmother, he met Moira, her granddaughter, and decided to stay, and start growing up.

Then Peter is visited by Tinker Bell, now in the shape of a very small Julia Roberts, who takes him back to Neverland to get his children back.

At this point, I have to say, the film’s problems begin manifesting. This was a famously expensive movie, and much of the money was spent on the rather lavish sets for Neverland. Huge pirate ships, a whole town, the Lost Boys’ hideout are extremely detailed and complex sets, filled with large crowds of extras. It becomes a really busy film, and very shouty,

Bob Hoskins plays Mr Smee, and he’s brilliant throughout.

Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook is, I think, less good. His accent isn’t bad, but it’s a bit shaky.

There’s another odd cameo, from Glenn Close as a pirate.

After a scene where the rather pathetic Banning fails to rescue his children, due to his cripplingly ironic fear of heights and flying, Tinker Bell gets Hook to agree to a three day training period, where she will get Peter back to his normal fighting self, and then they can have a proper fight.

So now we’re into the Lost Boys world, a weirdly anachronistic scene with skateboards and basketball, and punk haircuts. It all gets very Goonies, lots of shouting and running around.

In the absence of Peter, the leader of the Lost Boys is now Rufio. He’s not happy about this second rate, older Pan turning up, so there’s some conflict there.

The middle part of the movie is the most flabby, as Tinker Bell tries to get Peter back to his flying, fighting, crowing self, including a seemingly interminable food fight with the least appetising food you’ve ever seen on screen.

Meanwhile, Captain Hook decides that he’s going to be a better father to the stolen children than Peter was. Not quite sure how sitting them down for a school lesson is going to achieve that myself.

Amber Scott, playing Peter’s daughter Maggie, sings a song about being alone. It’s interesting because it’s clearly the voice of a very young child, so it’s not a perfect rendition, but I think it works. It was good enough to get an Oscar nomination, anyway.

John Williams actual score wasn’t nominated, I see, although Williams was nominated for JFK. I think the score for this is very good, and it does a huge amount of heavy lifting to make some of the scrappier Neverland material watchable.

Interesting fact about the score, though. If you buy the soundtrack album, it opens with a cue called “Prologue”. This cue never existed in the film, it was written specially for the film’s trailer, and I guess everyone liked it so much it ended up on the soundtrack album. I think it’s a classic Williams score, and contains future echoes of the kind of things he’s do with Harry Potter. But I’m a bit of a John Williams fanboy, so I guess I’m biased.

There’s another rather interminable sequence where Hook stages a baseball game for Jack so he can make up for being rubbish in his game at the start. Also, ironically, his father is actually present to watch this, and sees Hook calling him ‘My Jack’.

All through all of this, it’s all about Jack, and I feel sorry for Maggie, who seems to be entirely an afterthought in all of this, mostly just trapped in a large net.

Then Peter returns to the forest to try to remember who he was, and he finds Wendy’s old house, leading to him remembering when he was a baby, and somehow deciding then not to grow up, getting lost from his mother, and being taken to Neverland by Tinker Bell.

I do find the scene where an older Peter returns to his parents’ house to find they’d ‘forgotten him’ to be a little dark (and probably unfair on the parents). Just because they’ve had a new baby doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten him, but from his point of view that’s how it might have looked. Sorry, just standing up for parents, there.

We also see the scene where Peter meets Wendy for the first time, and Wendy is played by a young Gwyneth Paltrow.

So Peter finds his happy thoughts, that let him fly again, and it’s being a father. Obviously (if you’ve been reading the blog regularly) you’ll know that this is where I start engaging emotionally with the plot again, as father-child issues always do it for me.

So we reach the big climax, another shouty, visually busy fight scene, with the Lost Boys taking on the Pirates, and Peter taking on Hook. There’s some very good wire work going on here, by the way, with Robin Williams plying hither and yon around the massive sets.

Rufio gets a death scene, and gets the line “I wish I had a dad like you” so I’m crying again. It’s a sickness.

And young Jack, who starts the scene as a mini-me version of Captain Hook, realises he does too.

There’s a slightly cheesy scene where Peter’s at Hook’s mercy, and all the kids start saying “I do believe in you Peter” but I’ll let it pass. The duel ends up in the town square, underneath the clock that was made out of the body of the alligator who ate Hook’s hand, and who (in the backstory of this film) Hook then killed and stuffed.

Peter gets the upper hand, and Hook is de-wigged, making him look a bit pathetic and old.

But when Peter turns his back, Hook pulls another sword out and tries to stab him. There’s a tussle, then Hook’s Hook punctures the body of the alligator, which then starts collapsing, and he ends up being eaten by it in the end.

Then we get a coda, as Peter and his children return home, I get to cry a bit more, and Tootles, one of the old Lost Boys, who had lost his marbles, gets them back courtesy of Peter, and is able to fly again.

And the film ends on him flying out of the window, followed by a glorious Matte Painting which starts from a close-up of the attic window

Pulling back to a London cityscape, which Sky are nice enough to show in widescreen.

One last note – the script for this was originally developed by Spielberg, but he dropped it in the mid 80s, and the screenplay credits the story to original writer Jim V Hart, and Nick Castle, who was going to direct it when Spielberg dropped out. Castle, of course, we’ve seen most recently directing The Boy Who Could Fly.

After this, an abrupt change of tone, with a film I remember existing as a film, but I can’t really remember. It’s Body Parts, directed by writer Eric Red, who also wrote The Hitcher, Near Dark and Blue Steel, some films I really like.

It stars Jeff Fahey. You wait years for a Jeff Fahey movie, then two come along together only two days apart. He plays a clinical psychologist, who treats killers, and he wishes he could find a case where he can actually make someone better.

Fahey has a horrible car accident, loses his arm, and has a donor arm attached, in a strange operation where he can see the donor body having its head cut off. It’s also indicated on the computer in the operating room.

Lindsay Duncan is the surgeon who reattaches the arm. I imagine you don’t cast her in this role if that’s all she’s doing, so I suspect dark secrets.

He starts to see things, visions from the mind of the former owner of the arm who, wouldn’t you just know it, was a multiple murderer on Death Row who was executed. He looks up other recipients of the killer’s parts, including Brad Dourif, who was a struggling artist who now is in demand because of the new, dark and edgy work he’s producing, based on the same visions he’s getting.

So far, so similar to other spooky transplant films. The new limbs are making people behave oddly. But then Dourif is attacked by someone in his studio, thrown out of the window, and his arm ripped off by his assailant. falling conveniently on the bonnet of the police car holding Fahey and the detective investigating the case, played by Zakes Mokae.

Things get even sillier when, while waiting at lights, another drives up alongside them and someone in a neck brace (the same person who attacked Dourif) pulls alongside, and handcuffs himself to Fahey’s arm, then drives off, forcing Mokae to keep up with him. This is definitely something I haven’t seen in other spooky transplant movies.

Sure enough, the bloke in the neck brace has got the murderer’s head, which we saw removed at the start of the movie. Dr Duncan was doing some kind of experiment, and the head was rounding up all the other parts so she could do a Frankenstein job on him. But Fahey wins out in the end. A very silly movie.

After this, recording continues for a time with the start of a Robert Urich movie, Blind Man’s Bluff. The tape ends during this.

Adverts:

  • trail: Silver Bullet
  • trail: Mobsters
  • behind the scenes: Ricochet
  • trail: Tomorrow on the Movie Channels
  • trail: Football
  • Always
  • KFC
  • Pantene
  • Bold Ultra
  • Allinson
  • TV Challenge
  • Cocktail of Hits
  • trail: Kuffs
Advertisements

Kate Bush Live – The Mystery Of Morse – Horizon – tape 1496

Here’s an interesting tape. I usually do a very quick scrub through a tape to make sure it really is the one I think it is, and in this case, it was, but it’s slightly mislabelled, and meant there was a nice surprise towards the end. More of that later.

The first thing here is Kate Bush Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, a recording of her first and (until a couple of years ago) her only live tour.

It’s hard to overstate how much innovation there was in this show. Fully choreographed, Kate and her team had to fashion a handmade headset microphone because such a thing simply did not exist. I believe it was made with a wire coathanger. There’s also multiple costume changes, and sexy (male) backing dancers. She basically invented Madonna’s whole stage act years beforehand.

Plus the songs are great, even if it’s only the songs from her first two albums.

After this, recording switches to LWT and The Mystery of Morse, a documentary looking at the popularity of the show, as they prepare to show what they were billing as the last episode – seen on a recent tape. Of course, they made several more, but that’s no surprise.

Creator Colin Dexter tells of how autobiographical Morse was, something I had discerned long ago.

Former Chief Constable John Stalker likes his car. It’s always the bloody cars, isn’t it? An alternative for a personality.

Former hard-man John McVIcar probably knows a bit about policemen.

Julian Mitchell was the writer of a lot of later Morse.

Kevin Whately as Lewis. According to Mitchell, the book Lewis was about the same age as Morse. Whately’s Lewis was an innovation for the TV show. Smart move.

Composer Barrington Pheloung tells how the Morse theme is based on the actual morse code for MORSE. And he sometimes spells out the killer’s name in the score.

James Grout is Morse’s boss.

After this, recording switches, and here’s where the tape got a bit more interesting.

My database said the next programme is Northern Exposure, a programme that’s perfectly fine, but one that I’ve no real nostalgia for. But no, after a bit of the end of Top Gear and a trailer for The Trouble with Medicine is this:

Horizon, which could be anything. But this is one on Richard Feynman. Hooray, I thought, it’s the missing second part of the Horizon biography of Feynman.

But no, this is another recording of Part One, which I’ve already looked at on a previous tape. Oh no, how annoying. This is a repeat showing of the programme.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 27th January 1993 – 17:10

But following this, Hooray Hooray, here’s part two of the biography, No Ordinary Genius. The reason I could never find it is I’d never properly logged it.

In this programme we meet Feynman’s children, Carl

And Michelle

Former student Danny Hillis talks about how Feynman would help him when he started the Thinking Machine Company, building the Connection Machine.

The best part of the programme is the section that talks about Feynman’s part in the investigation of the Challenger Shuttle disaster. General Donald Kutyna talks about how he was unable to present some of the information that eventually led to the solution, because it came from astronauts, and those astronauts could be punished by Nasa for rocking the boat. So Kutyna would pass information to Feynman, who would take it and run with it. At the time, Feynman had no idea that he was being ‘played’ but he was happy in the end, because it led to the correct answers.

Incidentally, one of the astronauts feeding this information was Sally Ride, also a member of the commission. This was only found out after she died recently.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st February 1993 – 20:00

After this, recording continues with an advert for what good value the BBC is, and for The Ark.

Then, a short programme. It’s Sean’s Shorts, in Norwich.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 1st February 1993 – 20:50

After this, there’s a trailer for A Night of Love.

Then, that recording stops, and underneath there’s a bit of an episode of Reportage. The tape ends during this programme.

Adverts:

  • Thomas Cook
  • Pedigree Chum
  • Daily Mirror
  • Royal Mail Stamps
  • Sensodyne F
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Hermesetas
  • BMW
  • Australia
  • Daily Mirror
  • Diet Coke
  • Fiat – Mark Strong
  • Lunn Poly
  • Microsoft – Basketball
  • Today
  • Prudential
  • Singapore Airlines

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle – The Lawnmower Man – tape 1623

First on this tape, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, one of a number of movies in the early 90s featuring psycho women. Not that it was a new theme – just look back to Play Misty For Me for example – but these felt like Fatal Attraction had started a trend in a Hollywood that didn’t appear to have much imagination.

The director of this film, Curtis Hanson, also made the excellent The River Wild, and the critically acclaimed LA Confidential.

Annabella Sciorra plays an expectant mother.

John de Lancie plays a creepy gynaecologist who gives Sciorra an inappropriate examination in a very uncomfortable scene. Nobody plays subtle menace like de Lancie.

She makes a complaint, after which several other women come forward with similar complaints, and he kills himself, leaving his pregnant wife Rebecca de Mornay alone, and because of the lawsuits against his estate, and an insurance company clause against suicide, she’s left with nothing. Less than nothing, because the trauma of this news brings on a miscarriage, and an emergency hysterectomy.

Sciorra and husband Matt McCoy hire Ernie Hudson as a handyman. He has learning difficulties, but is liked by the family so they keep finding jobs around the home for him.

Sciorra has her baby, and she and her husband discuss whether they should get a nanny. Then, she bumps into De Mornay in the street, who introduces herself as ‘Peyton Flanders’ and says she’s applying for the nanny position. The stage is set for her to inveigle her way into the household.

This is a very creepy film. That’s not a criticism. But when De Mornay looks as if she might smother the baby, but the scene ends with her breastfeeding it, there’s a lot of psychological buttons being pressed.

Julianne Moore has just appeared as Sciorra’s best friend. She’s not going to fall for De Mornay’s schtick, so I fear for her safety. But the whole film perked up just by her being in it.

Hudson accidentally sees De Mornay secretly nursing the baby, so she confronts him to intimidate him. She’s really scary. “I won’t let you hurt them. They’re my friends” he says to himself. I fear for his safety.

Sure enough, De Mornay starts talking about inappropriate behaviour, dripping poison. Then she plants the daughter’s underwear in Hudson’s cart and tricks Sciorra into finding them. Hudson is out of the picture.

This is really well written, by Amanda Silver. But her filmography is nowhere near as full as I’d have expected. I wonder if that’s because most of the credit for the film went to the director. This is like a ticking clock, ratcheting up the tension as De Mornay keeps driving tiny wedges between Sciorra and her family in creepily subtle ways.

They even manage to do the “wife thinks he’s cheating but he’s really organising a surprise party” scene.

Julianne Moore comments on the windchime that De Mornay put outside the baby’s room. It becomes significant later on, when she’s given De Mornay’s old house to sell and sees the same windchime in a picture, and soon puts things together. Sadly, De Mornay is ready for such a confrontation, and she’s booby-trapped the greenhouse, and Moore is caught in a massive hail of glass.

Now she’s emptying out all of Sciorra’s asthma inhalers.

When Sciorra sees Moore’s mangled body she has an Asthma attack, almost dying. When she returns from hospital, De Mornay has got even closer to the family, even redecorating the nursery.

So she goes to Moore’s office to find out what she was doing just before she died, and follows the trail to De Mornay’s old house, where she finds an identically decorated nursery and the crucial clue, De Mornay’s breast pump. “She used to to keep her milk up” Sciorra realises, and a clue I din;t think a male writer would have come up with.

So now we’re in to the climax. Sciorra confronts De Mornay at home, and punches her so hard she’s thrown across the kitchen table. They take back her key and tell her to leave, then, there’s a piece of dialogue I want to kiss.

 

                            CLAIRE
               Call the police.

                            MICHAEL
               Claire, calm down.

                            CLAIRE
               Michael, you don't know what she's capable of.

                            MICHAEL
               Calm down, we have her keys.

                            CLAIRE
               I think she rigged the greenhouse. I think she 
               rigged the greenhouse for me.

                            MICHAEL
               All right, get the kids' things. We'll go to a 
               hotel.

Unfortunately, after that brief piece of sensible behaviour, there is a certain amount of horror movie behaviour right after. Hubbie McCoy hears the strains of Gilbert and Sullivan coming from the basement, where De Mornay was sleeping, so of course he goes down to investigate, rather than, I don’t know, locking the basement door and blocking it with furniture.

I’m carping, really, because, if you accept that this is how people behave in movies, this really is a cracking finale. It has absolutely everything. Both parents get variously incapacitated by De Mornay, leaving the big sister (who’s only about 6) to keep the baby away from De Mornay, who’s stalking the house with a poker. Frankly, she shows more invention and common sense than either of her parents. “You’re not my mommy” she shouts as she locks De Mornay into a bedroom.

The film even contrives to move the climax into the attic, where we find, surprise, Ernie Hudson’s Solomon has come to save the children by escaping down a ladder, having left a baby monitor to distract De Mornay downstairs.

But the law of drama dictates a few things from this climax, and this film is nothing if not law abiding. Sciorra recovers enough to confront De Mornay in the attic, but her Asthma kicks in, and De Mornay mocks her weakness. But wait! As soon as De Mornay turns her back and walks away, in victory, Sciorra’s breath stops rasping. She was faking it, and with a little look to her daughter to let her know she’s OK, she hurls herself at De Mornay.

But there’s still time for another action beat, as De Mornay, after Sciorra gets in a few good thumpings, gets the upper hand again, Hudson grabs her had to stop her bashing Sciorra with the poker, then he gets a few thumps for his trouble which he’s trying to protect the baby he’s carrying, until we finally get the ending we really want (and the laws of thrillers demand) as Sciorra pushes De Mornay out of the window, and she lands on the picket fence, the only correct ending for a villain in movies like this.

This is a silly film, but it’s a brilliantly written silly film. Rebecca De Mornay is outstanding, in fact the whole cast, Sciorra, Hudson and Moore particularly, are excellent. Husband McCoy is a bit bland for my tastes, but to be fair, he doesn’t get an awful lot to do, as all the heavy lifting in this movie is in the hands of the wonderful female cast.

I remember enjoying this a lot on its release, but I haven’t really revisited it since, so I’m glad to see it still works well.

After this, recording switches to another movie on Sky Movies, rather less well remembered by me. It’s The Lawnmower Man, based (very loosely, I think) on a short story by Stephen King and one of the standard bearers for the 90s wave of Virtual Reality films and TV shows.

Pierce Brosnan is researching into increasing the intelligence of chimps using drugs and Virtual Reality training, But he’s chafing at the military focus of the research, funded by a shadowy organisation called ‘The Shop’.

His star chimp gets out, tries to escape and kills a guard before being killed itself. This sequence betrays the low budget of the movie. Virtually every shot of the chimp is either a close-up of its face, or a POV shot from behind the chimp’s helmet, intercut with fairly rudimentary VR graphics.

We also meet Jeff Fahey as Jobe, a man with learning difficulties (that’s two for two on this tape) who, like Solomon in the previous movie, does general garden maintenance. He’s the Lawnmower Man. He’s also being regularly beaten by the priest who looks after him.

Brosnan takes a leave of absence from the research center, but is still obsessed with his work, to the extent that his wife (or girlfriend) leaves him because he spends all his time in his own VR rig. And who wouldn’t want to live in this dayglo blobby world. It’s hard to believe that this movie was released a year after Terminator 2, and only a year before Jurassic Park. Clearly, quality of CGI was also budget related.

Brosnan starts doing his experiments on Jobe, who starts learning at an accelerated rate, and who also starts brushing his hair and wearing better clothes.

Jobe has a young friend (not in a Dave Nice kind of way) played by Austin O’Brien from The Last Action Hero.

Jobe starts gaining telekinetic powers, which becomes dangerous when the slimy guy working for The Shop changes the programming without Brosnan’s knowledge. Dean Norris turns up as the head of The Shop.

Pretty soon, the film descends into a standard revenge story, as Jobe finds all the people who were abusive to him or his friends. The evil priest gets consumed by some primitive particle simulation.

He finds the bully at the petrol station and… well I’m not quite sure what he does but it has his face, and his mouth is lawnmower blades.

Austin O’Brien’s abusive father gets attacked by Jobe’s supercharged lawnmower, which at least is funny.

All the while, Jobe seems to be cosplaying as Automan.

Trying to get to the mainframe (of course there’s a mainframe) Jobe sets some poorly rendered CGI bees on the guards.

They really like this blobby effect – they’ve used it three times so far.

Jobe gets into the mainframe, but can’t get out. This is me trying to remember the password I used for a service I logged into once seven years ago.

There’s a nice dedication to the producer Milton Subotsky at the end.

This is a very average movie, far too impressed with its ‘cutting edge’ VR stuff to do much of anything interesting with the story. Oddly, I see echoes of this story in the much more recent Transcendence, where Johnny Depp puts himself into the mainframe, with similar megalomanical results. That had better effects, though.

After this, recording continues for a short time, and we’re promised ‘erotic adventures after dark’ by the announcer, at which point the recording stops.

Adverts:

  • Barclaycard
  • Toshiba
  • trail: Wayne’s World
  • Sky News Headlines
  • trail: Batman Returns
  • Martini
  • Carling/Tennents/Stones
  • Braun Supervolume
  • Venezia
  • British Beef
  • Fisher-Price
  • Babycham
  • Colman’s Sauces
  • trail: Wayne’s World

Film 93 – tape 1621

Here’s a tape full of episodes of Film 93. The first episode has reviews of the following films:

There’s a set of short interviews with various film industry figures about what makes a British Film.

There’s an interview with Peter Schneider and Tim Rice about Disney’s Aladdin.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th November 1993 – 17:30

The next episode features the following films:

There’s a look at cinema advertising on the 40th anniversary of Pearl and Dean.

It’s sometimes interesting to see which projects mentioned in the Movie News happen or don’t. This week, the suggestion that Mel Gibson would appear in To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar, and that Stanley Kubrick’s next project would be AI.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 15th November 1993 – 23:10

The next episode brings us Barry’s reviews of:

There’s a report on Addams Family Values by Tom Brook. It’s really weird seeing adults talking about the Addams Family as if they represent genuine characters who can teach us something. Like learning parenting values from Darth Vader.

At the end, Barry also pushes the 3D glasses needed to watch the 3D sections of Children in Need.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 22nd November 1993 – 23:15

The next episode sees Barry cast his eye upon:

There’s a report on Ealing Studios.

There’s also a clip of Laurel and Hardy performing in Spanish (not dubbed, it’s Stan and Ollie doing the dialogue themselves).

BBC Genome: BBC One – 29th November 1993 – 23:05

In the next episode, the films under review are:

In his review of Addams Family Values, he talks about the actors playing the children, Wednesday and Pugsley, as “The astonishingly good Christina Ricci… and Jimmy Workman”. Ouch.

There’s a report from Tom Brook on Undercover Blues.

There’s also a report on Steven Berkoff’s Decadence, with an interview with star Joan Collins.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th December 1993 – 23:10

The next episode features Barry’s reviews of these films:

There’s an interview with Robin Williams about Mrs Doubtfire.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 13th December 1993 – 23:10

The next episode sees Barry Norman in a festive mood.

He presents reviews of

There’s a report on Oliver Stone’s Heaven and Earth.

There’s also a location report on ‘Bedlam’ (which became Beyond Bedlam).

BBC Genome: BBC One – 20th December 1993 – 23:05

After this – in fact, just before this episode finishes, recording switches and we get the end of an episode of Catchword with Paul Coia.

There’s a trailer for The Day Today.

Then, it’s a new year, so it’s Film 94 and Barry Norman looks at the following films:

In the wake of Tombstone, Barry looks at the resurgence of the western as a genre, because let’s face it, he loves them.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 18th January 1994 – 17:30

After this, there’s a trailer for Moving Pictures.

Then there’s the start of the film Gray Lady Down. The tape ends after a few minutes of the film.

Cracker – Inside Victor Lewis Smith – tape 1634

First on this tape, the third part of the Cracker story To Say I Love You. I looked at the first two parts a long time ago – nearly two years ago.

It starts with Fitz being sacked. He’s not taking it well.

The police have Tina in custody, one of a pair of spree killers. Susan Lynch is very good as Tina.

Fitz’s marriage, to Barbara Flynn, is in trouble. After their son was rushed to hospital with appendicitis, she tells him she’s going to come back to him, but also admits she’d slept with David Haig, a revelation that would shock any husband.

It all ends with a hostage situation, with Tina’s partner in crime Sean holding her blind sister hostage, having doused the house in petrol and turned on the gas.

Coltrane gets to stand in front of an explosion.

Next, a new story, One Day a Lemming Will Fly. Frances Tomelty and Tim Healy play the parents of a missing boy.

The missing boy liked poetry so they talk to his English teacher. He’s played by Christopher Fulford, so my casting sense is tingling. He’s also interviewed while he’s punching a sandbag. He’s either a wrong-un or being set up as a red herring.

The pathologist, Geoffrey Hutchings, is not happy to have been called away from a costume party to examine the boy’s body.

DCI Bilborough is getting nervous about his wife’s overdue pregnancy.

Fulford the English Teacher gets suicidal. He thinks the boy killed himself because of bullying, which he didn’t address adequately. Fitz gives a speech about lemmings, and how, one day, a lemming will fly, because Evolution. But his explanation about how pigeons evolved flight doesn’t really hold water. He should stick to the psychoanalysis.

There’s an ugly mob forming around the police station, as Fitz and Penhaligon bring Fulford in.

I love the ancient telephone in Penhaligon’s car.

Fitz thinks Fulford is gay. This is a big deal in the 90s, so the crowd outside was fuelled into a homophobic rage by DS Beck, Lorcan Cranitch. We all know how he ended up.

I’m watching this, and my youngest daughter is with me. She often ignores the stuff I’m watching, preferring her own media, but she’s watching this and she asked me when this was made. “Were people less accepting of gay people in those days?” she asked, picking up on exactly what I was thinking. It’s not like we don’t still have homophobia, but it’s interesting to see what it was like, even in the 90s.

When he’s released, the local gammon don’t like it, and the murdered boy’s father and another rabble rouser drive a digger into his apartment. Tim Healy putting his Auf Wiedersehen Pet experience to good use.

Mrs Bilborough eventually has the baby.

In the end, Fulford confesses, and is charged, but then he reveals to Fitz that he didn’t do it. Fitz was wrong, and now has to deal with the real killer still being out there.

And in the end, rather than going off for a dirty weekend with DS Penhaligon, he stays with his family. Nice to see the swingball (or swirly tennis if you’re my kids) in use there.

After this, recording continues for a short time, and there’s the start of News at Ten leading with the Princess of Wales to sue the Sunday and Daily Mirror. The James Bulger murder trial is also running.

But shortly into this bulletin, recording switches to BBC2 and an episode of Inside Victor Lewis Smith.

I wonder what the budget for this was? The hospital bits are shot on film, which seems like it would have been a lot more expensive than using video at the time.

Is it just me, or is there a huge amount of homophobia in his material? Somehow, it’s not massively surprising that these days he’s become a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Sad, really.

However, the programme is worth it, if only for the performance of the Nationwide theme tune by a brass band.

Roger Lloyd Pack makes an appearance

Annette Badland plays a nurse.

There’s also a young Dean Gaffney.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th November 1993 – 22:00

After this, there’s a trailer for The Buddha of Suburbia.

Then, the start of a short programme, Sarajevo – Street Under Seige. The tape ends during this programme.

Adverts:

  • BMW
  • London Motor Show
  • Cellnet
  • Bird’s Eye Menu Master
  • Jif Mousse
  • Pizza Hut
  • BT
  • BMW
  • The Independent
  • Halifax
  • Tetley
  • The Independent
  • Beechams
  • Sony
  • The Independent
  • trail: News at Ten
  • The Independent
  • Heineken Export
  • BT
  • The Independent
  • Wall’s Wall Bangers
  • Sony
  • McDonalds
  • The Independent
  • BT
  • Schwartz
  • Thurrock Lakeside
  • Kwik Fit
  • Lynx Tempest
  • British Pork
  • Tetley Bitter
  • trail: News at Ten
  • trail: Total Recall
  • Cellnet
  • Baxter’s Soup
  • Snickers
  • IBM
  • Midland Bank

Wayne’s World – Trust – tape 1625

Here’s a couple of movies today. First, on a festive Sky Movies, it’s Wayne’s World.

At this stage, I think all the Wayne’s World schtick is just too familiar for me to say if I think it’s any good any more. I mean, we all like the Bohemian Rhapsody car trip, but it’s hardly great comedy.

I really don’t get what they’re doing with Lara Flynn Boyle’s character. Was there a big problem with very attractive women continuing to hang around not very attractive men who dumped them in the 90s?

There’s a cameo from Meat Loaf as a doorman at a club.

Tia Carrere is good, though. Which the film needs to try to rebalance the enormous sexism of the main characters.

Rob Lowe, also, is excellent as the slimy TV executive.

I do like the scene where Wayne and Cassandra talk in Cantonese.

“We fear change” is a line I use myself.

I like the scene where Rob Lowe is trying to persuade Wayne to let their sponsor have a spot on the show, and he refuses to sell out, all while doing tons of actual product placement.

Rob Lowe is a Pick Up Artist.

The scene where they reenact the Laverne and Shirley title sequence left most of the UK audience confused, as I recall.

Chris Farley makes an appearance as a security guard.

Alice Cooper’s scene is funny, even though it’s a retread of a scene from Saturday Night Live with Aerosmith.

I like the scene where they do their first show with the network, and it’s in a studio, with an announcer and a prerecorded theme tune, and Wayne sabotages his interview with their sponsor.

Nice Robert Patrick T2 reference.

I think the thing I like most about this is the playing with film conventions.

Especially the ending, where they play the unhappy ending first, then do a Scooby Doo ending.

The ‘Mr Big’ record producer is played by Frank DiLeo, Michael Jackson’s producer.

OK, so in the end, I enjoyed watching this again. I do have a problem with the normalised sexism, but the film makes up for that with charm.

After this, a film I have never seen, and know nothing about save that it’s directed by Indie darling Hal Hartley. It’s Trust, and spinning through it on fast forward, I assumed the lead actress was Rosanna Arquette, but it’s not, she’s Adrienne Shelly.

Everyone in this movie is quitting something, and they’re all angry. She’s been thrown out of school, argues with her father, slaps him round the face and walks out, at which point he drops dead.

Meanwhile, Matthew (Martin Donovan) quits his job, angrily, and his father, very blue collar, doesn’t approve. He gets him to clean the bathroom, which he does, but then leaves a cigarette there, so his father goes ballistic. These are not happy families.

There’s some egregious boom mics in shot on some of these scenes. The film was obviously shot flat, and is supposed to be masked to 1.85:1, so when Channel 4 show it unmasked, you get a huge mic bouncing around at the top of frame that’s very distracting.

Matthew is very deep. You can tell because he carries a hand grenade around with him.

His father sets him up with a job repairing TVs, because that’s his expertise. But he refuses to work on TVs, “Television is the opium of the masses”

He’s awful. He pushes people around, punches them for seemingly no reason, and there’s no comeback. He goes into a bar, and everyone there seems to be scared of him.

But he and Maria meet up, and start to become friends. She changes her hair and starts wearing her glasses.

“We don’t need a genius, we need someone to fix the TVs.” Some actually good management thoughts.

Maria’s mother blames her for her father’s death, and hate the idea of she and Matthew being together. She gets him drunk, then puts him in Maria’s sister’s room, hoping this will break up the pair.

I’m glad to see that Chekov’s Hand Grenade does make a late appearance at the end, as Matthew takes it to his hated place of work and threatens to blow himself up. And it occurs to me (not for the first time) that he’s basically an alt-right terrorist. Disaffected, violent, sees himself as superior to everyone. If this were made now he’s be in a MAGA hat. No wonder I hate him.

After this, recording continues with Sex Talk. The tape ends during this.

Adverts:

  • BT
  • Tesco
  • Quality Street
  • Metro Tahiti
  • Jif Microliquid
  • Jean Paul Gaultier
  • Drinking and Driving
  • Malibu
  • Max Factor
  • Citizen
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Coco
  • Ford
  • Braun Oral B
  • Braun Flex Control
  • Holsten Pils – Jeff Goldblum
  • Seiko Kinetic
  • Asti Spumante
  • Boots
  • Rumbelows
  • BT
  • Kate Bush – The Red Shoes
  • John Smith’s – Jack Dee
  • Schweppes Tonic Water
  • Seiko Kinetic
  • trail: The Bridge
  • Safeway
  • Quality Street
  • Boddington’s
  • Safeway
  • trail: Christmas on Sky
  • Polaroid
  • Volvo
  • Philishave
  • Hellmann’s
  • Dina Carroll – So Close
  • trail: Short Stories: Distant Voices Still Lips
  • trail: The Word
  • Sekonda – Bob Monkhouse
  • East 17 – Walthamstow
  • Levi 501
  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Budweiser
  • Jean Paul Gaultier

All Or Nothing At All – tape 1619

Weirdly, about the only thing I remember about All Or Nothing At All is the theme song.

It opens dramatically, with a young boy at private school being summoned to see his mother, who tells him she thinks his father has killed himself.

Then we immediately flash back (I assume) to a happier time, with Hugh Laurie, the father in question, hosting a summer party.

Caroline Quentin is at the party

with husband Steve Steen

He lives a life of luxury that appears to be out of step with his salary. His brother begs him for whatever financial secret he has, assuming there’s some kind of investment thing going on, and asks him to invest £50,000 for him.

But there’s no secret market trick, just Laurie spending more than he has, so he does what every man would do, and puts it all on a horse.

But more people start to sniff money and start ‘investing’ in his fund, and he still keeps putting it on the horses, mostly losing. His boss is played by Bob Monkhouse, and when he sees all the unfamiliar faces visiting Laurie, he gets him to tell him what’s going on. So Laurie spins him a tale of offshore funds, liquidity and other financial bullshit, until Monkhouse allows him to run ‘the fund’ as part of the business.

This is so hard to watch. It’s horrible watching someone you like (and let’s face it, we always like Hugh Laurie) continually making terrible decisions.

Now he’s in so deep that he’s asking his wife to let him sell their house and ‘invest’ the proceeds.

In the next episode, Phyllida Law comes to him, asking for him to invest her money so she can improve the lot of her charity. She’s blind, and she brought the money in a holdall. Phyllida Law, I will remind you, is the mother of Emma Thompson, making Laurie’s crimes even greater.

He walks in on Steve Steen having sex with his secretary – a surprisingly explicit scene in this otherwise genteel programme. It mirrors flashbacks of a young Laurie walking in on his vicar father fiddling with a woman congregant.

This leaves Caroline Quentin rather distraught, as Steen owns everything.

He gets sacked from his firm, and he spins this as leaving to run the fund on his own. But at the end of the episode poor Phyllida Law is found dead at the bottom of the office stairwell, possibly due to a heart attack, possibly something else.

He’s called to his son’s school, where his son stole money that he was owed from a bet – something Laurie himself did as a boy. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I’m including this screenshot merely for the BBC Micro on the desk in the background. Shut up, it’s my blog.

Soon, two more potential clients are in his office, but he soon realises they are from the Fraud Squad.

He runs, and meets up with the woman at the telephone betting company who used to run his account. He tries pretending he works for her company in security, and when she sees through that, he tries to get her to help him get out of the hole, by setting up another account. We also have a final revelation from his childhood, where he discovers his vicar father hanging from a noose, but not quite dead. He believes his father never forgave him for not letting him die.

Except that’s not the last revelation from his past. The whole flashback story started with him getting £15 from his father to buy a watch. When asked later why he hadn’t bought one, he said he was still looking, and he ends up making a bet with a schoolfriend for his watch. My assumption was always that the original £15 was just spent on nothing, but the final flashback shows the young Laurie putting his £15 in the church collection plate.

This comes during a scene where the fraud squad have turned up at his parents’ house looking for him, and his father angrily tells them how much he loathes his son. Then Laurie appears in the door behind him, having been there all the time. Suddenly I’m crying like a baby. Father and Son stories will do that to me.

Well, that was a revelation. As I said at the start, I didn’t remember much about it beyond the theme song, but that was honestly very good. Really hard to watch, though, as I didn’t like seeing Hugh Laurie continue making the same mistake, but the programme really works. I should hate it for making me sympathise with a con man running a Ponzi scheme, but you cast Hugh Laurie in that role, I’m going to sympathise. Hell, I even sympathised a bit with his monstrous arms dealer in The Night Manager.

And the final scene, where he gets a fiver from his cellmate, then burns it, just underlines the nature of his character.

The recording stops immediately after the last episode.

Adverts:

  • Disaronno
  • Calvin Klein Eternity
  • Remegel
  • Philips Satinelle
  • Argos
  • Guinness
  • Obsession for Men
  • trail: The January Man
  • trail: Documentaries on Four
  • Ford Barclaycard
  • Calvin Klein Eternity
  • Worthington Best Bitter
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • Paxo
  • Asti Spumante
  • Jean Paul Gaultier