Thursday, January 31, 2013

Copy Fail: Marks and Spencer

It pains me to criticise a brand I have myself contributed to, if only briefly. But unless I am much mistaken, the concept of being taken “hook, line and sinker”, refers to swallowing the bait. As in being conned, or falling for some kind of trick or lie. Are we then to assume that Marks and Spencer have fallen for a policy which they know now to be a trick, a fiction, a fraud? And are choosing to stick with it?

It’s the worst kind of copywriting. An attempt at clever word play that pays no attention to context or meaning. Although I suppose believing in something is quite a lot different to actually doing something about it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Comic Book Villain of the Week

Blue Snowman

While the comic book world wasslow to represent homosexuality in its titles, they were surprisingly quick to feature transsexual characters. In a puzzling case of wordplay, Byrna Brilyant is a school teacher who swiftly turns to crime when her father dies, bequeathing her an invention that makes “blue snow” – a gun that freezes anything that touches its blue ray.
She then took the identity of Blue Snowman, an interesting choice; not only did she choose to become a man, she chose to be a jowly, chubby, middle-aged man with a bowler hat. She/he also didn’t look much like a snowman either.
Rather unambitiously, she took to freezing farms and extorting money from the farmers in exchange for unfreezing them. She was defeated by Wonder Woman. She later joined a villain’s team, Villainy Inc, but was also defeated. The character made one of those “knowing” reappearances in 2010, where he/she had added a pipe to her/his arsenal of weaponry, presumably because it was masculine. After failing to steal a diamond, she/he was eaten by a monster.
Blue Snowman was not actually the first cross-dressing comic book character; she was proceeded by more than five years by heroes Red Tornado and Madame Fatal.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

December Film Highlights

It's possible I might have mentioned that I do these film reviews all the time on a seperate blog, which can be found here...
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Aidan Turner, Stephen Hunter, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis. Dir: Peter Jackson.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 50 Word Film ReviewA hobbit is persuaded to join a dwarf group in reclaiming their homeland from a dragon. It’s not the dragging, padded story that kills it, not even the 48fps, which makes the image muddy; it’s banal scripting, with one-note characters and cliché-ridden dialogue that renders it lifeless and cheesy.

Hitchcock (2012) Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg. Dir: Sacha Gervasi.

Hitchcock 50 Word Film Review

Hitchcock’s determination to make Psycho puts strain on his marriage when he’s forced to finance it himself. At best when staging this as Hitch’s great caper. When it explores rumours, obsessions and mysteries surrounding him and Alma, it’s frequently badly club-footed. Quite liberal with truth also; Whitfield Cook’s harshly treated.

Seven Psychopaths (2012) Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Željko Ivanek. Dir: Martin McDonagh.

Seven Psychopaths 50 Word Film Review

A screenwriter’s work is interrupted when his dog-kidnapping friends steal a gangster’s pooch. A film that’s enjoying its cleverness too much, and distracted by supporting characters. Unlike In Bruges, it’s missing an emotional core. But it’s funny, well cast and riffs on how movies now inform our perspectives on everything.

Swiss Miss (1938) Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Walter Woolf King, Della Lind, Eric Blore, Adia Kuznetzoff. Dir: John G. Blystone.
Swiss Miss 50 Word Film Review
A composer retreats to a hotel to write, just as Stan & Ollie are forced to work in the kitchen. A musical plot makes forced inclusion of songs more organic, but does reduce the boys to supporting characters in their movie. Not quite classic, but consistently funny and fairly brisk.

Strangers on a Train (1951) Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock, Laura Elliott. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock.

Strangers on a Train 50 Word Film Review

A tennis champion meets a man who suggests they swap people to murder to escape suspicion. Highsmith’s book was dream Hitchcock material. One of his most entertaining thrillers, riffing on the idea of doubles to explore the darkness that exists in all of us. Walker is a brilliantly seductive psychopath.

Sightseers (2012) Alice Lowe, Steve Oram. Dir: Ben Wheatley.

Sightseers 50 Word Film Review

A shy woman goes caravanning with her new boyfriend, but things take a bloody turn. A black-comic ramble around UK’s more bizarre tourist hotspot and an insight into people (just) on the fringes, whose isolation has borne a narcissism that finds it acceptable to murder over minor slights. Brutally funny.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Edmond O'Brien, Woody Strode, Andy Devine, John Carradine. Lee Van Cleef. Dir: John Ford.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 50 Word Film Review

A senator tells the true story of a legendary shoot-out, revealing a surprising truth. A film that still has plenty to say about myth-making, masculinity, society, justice and politics. Pretty cynical Ford shoots it in a surprisingly dark, almost noir style. But foremost, it’s a great story brilliantly told.