Monthly Archives: February 2010

Brothers

I remember reading about the original Danish film Brødre, and deciding I could never watch it. The mere thought of two brothers fighting over the same woman, when the one who’s married to her goes missing, presumed dead, at war, and the other no-good drifter gets friendly with his sister-in-law was too much. I thought much the same after seeing the trailers for the American version of  the story, but found to my ‘relief’ that it was more than just two brothers wanting the same girl.

Tobey Maguire

It’s fairly potent stuff, and the kind that leaves you knowing there is no right or wrong solution for anything like this. History repeats itself as father Sam Shepard’s behaviour towards his sons after Vietnam, comes back with a vengeance when Tobey Maguire miraculously returns from Afghanistan. He’s a changed man, and whereas we liked him best to begin with, we’d rather see the last of him towards the end. Or do we?

Bailee Madison, Natalie Portman and Taylor Geare

His daughters certainly do. They are scared of what he has become (at the hands of Omid Abtahi, who seems to specialise in this kind of character), and uncle Jake Gyllenhaal seems so much more safe and friendly. It’s ironic that both brothers have done something bad by the end, and both have been the ‘good guy.’

Bailee Madison as the older of the two daughters is fantastic. It almost comes as a shock to find a young girl actress who can act.

This is a surprisingly good American copy of a Scandinavian film; something I always complain about. It manages to feel real, rather than glitzy.

At Cornerhouse this week.

A Single Man

‘I’m English. I like being wet and cold.’ So says Colin Firth to his young student played by Nicholas Hoult in A Single Man. It’s a film that people will flock to watch, starring three handsome male actors covering a wide age range. Now, I don’t mean that our Mr Darcy has grown old, but next to Matthew Goode he is. Somewhat. And Nicholas Hoult is barely old enough to be a college student.

Matthew Goode and Colin Firth

It’s only thanks to the ladies hairdos that you can tell whether it’s a flashback or not; late 1940s or early 1960s. A Single Man feels quite Christopher Isherwood-ish, which was to be expected. Not much happens. Matthew Goode dies in the opening scene, but the only aspect that made this a really sad occasion is that with homosexuality having to be hidden in those days, Colin Firth’s character can’t go to the funeral or even be seen to grieve very openly.

Other than that, I wasn’t convinced that there was much feeling there at all. He wants to kill himself, and spends the day preparing his suicide, but then things don’t go as he, or we, expect.

Julianne Moore

Beautifully filmed in wonderful locations, and with some great, if possibly overdone, 1960s authentic props. Very nice touch to have the mild mannered Colin Firth offering to kill the neighbour’s brat.

The James Dean look-alike was a fresh breeze in a fairly stifling drama about hurt feelings among people it was hard to like. And perhaps nobody realised that it’s his British accent that makes Matthew Goode so sexy. Fake American works nowhere near as well.

At Cornerhouse from today.

Zzzz…

Wow! I’m clearly not a typical NCIS fan any more, because I loved Jack-Knife, and so many fans seem not to have liked it at all. Someone even called it dull.

Fornell and Gibbs

This was not dull. It was a fun-filled family adventure with plenty of humour. All right, and a lot of sleeping went on, but mainly by McGee. There were fast cars. Fornell was back and there was absolutely no reason for him to be, but we were very happy to see him and his slippers. The man looks good in a beard. Less sure about the slippers, but he took those off.

Tired McGee

Tired McGee

And poor McGee kept sleeping as and when he could. It doesn’t sound so good, but he even slept with Gibbs, in a manner of speaking.

Tired McGee

Tired McGee

Damon Werth was back too, and not as the corpse as some so-called fans had hoped. What’s wrong with you people? I’d be very happy to have our ex-steroid muscle man turn up every now and then. We know why he’s faithful to Gibbs, and quite rightly so. And why shouldn’t he like the former Mossad officer?

Gibbs's car

Gibbs’s car got an outing, so he trusts Fornell with a lot of things these days. Poor McGee turned himself into a guilt-ridden servant, but one who became impossibly chatty once he entered Schloss Gibbs. If Gibbs really locks his door now, it didn’t have the desired effect, did it?

At home with Gibbs

There was very little here that required ‘the feds’, but it made for a cosy get-together, and lack of plot makes absolutely no difference. In fact, sometimes I believe it helps an episode along quite nicely. And – oh dear – those British accents are very, well, British.

I gather we now have a long wait for next time. If it’s not Presidential elections, it’s stuff like Olympic Games getting in the way. Sigh. Will have to watch this one again. And again.

208

Do other people still react when they see the number 208? I conditioned myself to thinking only of Radio Luxembourg at a young age. Back in the dark ages, when Swedish radio offered about three hours of pop music a week, it was a little bit of a culture shock to visit the English Pen Friend who had access to lots of music, and who also seemed to have something wonderful called Radio Luxembourg.

The 208 DJs

Once home, I managed to unearth one radio which could receive on MW208. Not very well, but in those days we were pioneers and put up with a lot. Apart from the crackling reception, I had to deal with DJs who spoke a new language, and I don’t mean English. It was a totally new way of talking about pop music. They were even allowed to say if they liked a record, which was shocking to a listener from the land of equality where you just didn’t say things like that.

Over the three years or so that I sat glued to the radio, I went through a few DJs, but my favourite was Mark Wesley, who was all right once I’d stopped disliking him…

Mark Wesley

I subscribed to a magazine called Fabulous 208, which had pictures of pop stars, and pictures of the DJs. That was useful when School Friend and I InterRailed to Luxembourg in 1972. The radio station was high on my list, so School Friend was dragged there, whether she liked it or not. We hovered in the park outside the radio station, when along came a red sports car, which thanks to my nerdy reading habits I recognised as belonging to Mark Wesley.

Kid Jensen

He drove off to park the car, after letting Kid Jensen jump out first. School Friend and I raced along with cameras, elbowing a couple of German teenagers out of the way. The Kid (this was before he turned back into plain David) posed happily for his admirers, and left. I nearly expired with excitement waiting for Mark, but he turned up eventually. He posed rather more impatiently, but still, I got a picture of him.

And School Friend uttered the words she used a lot on that trip; ‘he’s quite good looking, really.’

Smother me with a synthetic pillow

Well not me, please, and while not a direct quote, it’s close to what Hetty said in NCIS: Los Angeles – LD50. I’d say that feathers might do an even better job for anyone allergic to them, but…

We had the team in post-disappearance mode after last week. Sam isn’t ready to say they need someone else while Dom is missing, however short that period might be. The others are coming round.

Otherwise, pretty exciting with a race against time theme. Between them the two NCISes this week seemed hellbent on destroying Los Angeles and Washington. Though the beginning of this LA episode didn’t make sense to me. But I’m willing to rethink if someone can explain the fake television soldiers.

Sam did a great job of starting the brawl between the assembled crooks, who were no better than little boys. And I’d have thought that with his dangerous lifestyle Callen would be no stranger to needles.

NCIS – Masquerade

Hart, Gibbs and DiNozzo

‘I would be happy to leave’ says M A Hart, our dreadful lawyer from a few episodes ago. I wish she would. There are still no sparks, so we’re either still talking bad acting, or a lack of romantic intention. If we’re to believe Gibbs will continue to be Gibbsy, then he’s not going anywhere.

Gibbs, McGee and Vance

One day I really will be so sad that I sit and take notes of good lines all through every episode, because there are some great ones, nicely scattered about. You hear them, and immediately forget them again, because there’s more action. Vance’s ‘someone’s got a serious Greyhound fetish’ is one example.

Gibbs and McGee

Who’d have thought McGee would be ready to stand up to the boss and tell Gibbs ‘it’s an order I’m disobeying’. And Gibbs didn’t even look annoyed. Knowing him, it’s what he expected our ever more handsome nerd to say. I’m not sure what it is. Is it McGee’s hair?

DiNozzo, McGee and Ziva

It’s not just the tuxedo, or the black tie, if we’re being British about it. There was noise about McGee’s attire on Special Ops, and I’m tempted to agree. If I could only have got a good screen grab he’d make it to next year’s calendar at Witch Towers.

McGee, Abby and DiNozzo

Speaking of clothes, Abby’s yellow outfit looked good enough to eat. Never mind that it was to protect her from radiation. As Abby says to McGee, it’s ‘way to cool to take off’. Well, it’s all right for someone who can avoid looking like a teletubby.

Palmer and Gibbs

As for online weddings, or dancing competitions, it makes you wonder if they have an army of people just writing down silly ideas when they encounter things in ‘real life’, with a view to get it out and dust it off one day and put it in an episode. Can I send in my contributions?

Gibbs and M A Hart

Finally, Gibbs, don’t do it! Remember Doppelgänger. It is so not a good idea.

(Photos © CBS)

Precious

Many of us are victims of something. The description of teenager Precious as fat and black and illiterate, pregnant for the second time after years of being raped by her father and living with her violent mother, is enough to feel she is a victim.

And she is. But however awful her mother has been, she too is a victim. Her actions can’t be condoned, but they can be explained.

Gabourey Sidibe

Getting expelled from her school and being sent to another that specialises in helping those who need it most, turns out to be exactly what Precious needs. Her teacher Ms Rain cares about the girls and helps them develop more than their reading and writing skills. For the first time Precious has friends, and she makes another in a nurse at the hospital where she gives birth.

Paula Patton

Precious is a marvellous film about finding yourself and maturing and doing something about your life, however hopeless that life may seem at the beginning. The teenager works hard at becoming a new person; someone who can support herself and her two young children, away from her mother.

Setting the film in the late 1980s also means that there is another spanner thrown into the works, called Aids. That’s almost too much to bear when you consider what Precious achieves.

At Cornerhouse now.

Interviews and chat shows

Or ‘prat show’ as they are called in Sweden. It actually means chat show, but when looked at from the English language point of view it’s a slightly unfortunate description.

Interviews; I like them to be different from everything else you’ve seen or heard about the subject. I know that it could be someone’s first time, but for any fan to read yet another interview where X is asked the same questions yet again, drives me mad. I even found that I share my opinions with the editor of Elle, as to the desirability of a long interview slot and one-to-one only, with time to almost get to know X.

It’s what I like, but don’t always get. And I see no reason to offend someone on purpose with too personal a question. That’s why I don’t mind asking my subject to quickly look over the finished interview, to find things that aren’t right. With no scandal in mind, I’m more interested in deleting that extra sister I accidentally gave them, or finding that I’ve misheard their favourite quote.

I may have been too unkind to Mark Harmon on this blog a couple of months ago, when I said that he only ever says the same thing in interviews, over and over. He does, and he doesn’t. Each start of the new NCIS season he is wheeled out on the chat shows to say something, and the same goes for the end of every NCIS season. They ask him the standard questions, and the main difference in Mark’s replies is the number of the current season. And maybe the number of episodes they’ve done so far.

He’s really just the show’s representative, there to make people watch NCIS. Maybe it’s hard to make up new answers, maybe he can’t be bothered. Or perhaps CBS want him to say these very things, or the chat show host does.

Mark Harmon and Jay Leno

If we’re lucky, then the Lenos or the Craig Fergusons of this world will also choose to chat about something else, more personal, but still steering clear of Mark’s very private private life. It does feel, though, as if they pick the subject beforehand. ‘Let’s talk about holidays tonight’, say, or ‘let’s do that one about your father yet again’.

There were some indifferent or bad chat programme chats with Mark last autumn, but I suppose he has to do them when asked/told to. They weren’t unpleasant so much as just bad. That’s not counting the really dreadful one on Lopez Tonight, which surely overstepped the boundaries of decency. Real prat show, that. And Mark had to sit there and not punch the man in the face, because that wouldn’t be so good for NCIS. (Actually, I think it would.)

Mark Harmon

So, nice to see that he was back on Leno last week. Not so nice that the television channel removed all traces of it from YouTube and the like. This time it was the 150 episodes that came up, followed by a very manly chat about cars. So each time we get a little piece of Mark’s life, but the man is better than anyone I’ve come across for keeping people off. And I had no idea that Americans learned to drive in school. In the olden days.

At least on television we get Mark in person. Magazine articles often appear to quote what other people say about him, so I would guess he’s not too keen to take part. And most of them rehash the same stuff again. But his name sells.

Pam Dawber

I may be an idiot, but I don’t get why on all the shows they have to point out to Mark who he is married to. I’ve not come across that with other victims, so is this special for some reason? Other than to the two people involved. But I’d say that when someone next tells Mark that his wife has the best hair on television, that he just thanks them. It’s a compliment, after all, even if he didn’t create Pam’s hair himself.

See, I just mentioned her myself. I’m no better than the rest.