» Films ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Veteran writer Troy Kennedy Martin has died. I’m sure the media reports of his death will centre on the fact he wrote The Italian Job, and they’re not to be blamed for that as it is iconic within British film, but for me his most important work will always be Edge Of Darkness.

A few years ago I started making notes for a long blog post about it, but then never got round to writing the post itself, so maybe it’s time to get the DVD from the shelf and watch it again to do just that, especially before the Mel Gibson film version comes out and spoils the memory of it.

Or, would anyone be interested in re-watching it as a blog-facilitated group exercise? It looks like the DVD’s available for about a fiver, and it might be an interesting experiment to watch an episode a week at about the same time and then discuss it afterwards, just like they did in the 80s.

(Original news via Frank on Twitter, who’ll probably have a post up about him later, I’m sure)

UPDATE: Told you Frank’d have a post about him.

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Patrick Swayze RIP

Remember him with one of his greatest films:

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It perhaps indicates the sort of film fans that I talk to that this was one of the most anticipated film events of the year:

Sadly, as with real Hollywood films, anticipation from the trailer didn’t live up to expectation and MS vs GO is just a bad film, not a ‘so bad it’s good’ film. If you feel that your life isn’t complete without watching a bad film featuring a giant prehistoric shark, then I’d recommend the much better (for values of ‘better’ that include forms of ‘worse’) Shark Attack 3.

But I think Shark Attack 3, for all its many and myriad faults, shows what the problem is with MS vs GO. Both of them are bad films, but MS vs GO is cynically bad. The creators have come up with a title, realised that it will make them a profit with a minimum of effort, then gone out and put in that minimum of effort and no more. That’s the entire business model of The Asylum, of course – cashing in on titles – and good luck to them with it, but for true bad movie genius there needs to be something more.

The key thing about Ed Wood is that he never thought he was making bad movies. Sure, he saw himself as a maverick film-maker, working outside of the system, but he and the rest of his crew were always doing the best they could to produce what they thought would turn out to be the blockbuster that would get the world thinking they were right. Whether it be Plan 9 From Outer Space, Shark Attack 3, Manos: The Hands of Fate or Space Mutiny, the makers of truly bad movies didn’t set out to make an intentionally bad film. All the bizarre things that make us laugh now from the chiropractor impersonating Bela Lugosi through Big McLargeHuge to John Barrowman delivering the most bizarre line in film history were put in by people who thought they were good ideas at the time, and something that would make their movie great.

By contrast, everything about MS vs GO has an unmistakeable air of ‘that’ll do’ and ‘it’s not that important’ about it, be it sets that look like corridors when they’re meant to be the bridge of US Navy destroyers, a half-hearted battle between the titular monsters or Lorenzo Lamas just nibbling the scenery occasionally when his role demands crazed chewing of it for it to make any sense. They’ve set out to make a mediocre movie and succeeded, but you can only plumb the true depths of failure if you’re aiming for the stars. And with bizarre metaphors like that, I should be writing film scripts…

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I’m not entirely sure whether these figures for the number of times certain TV shows and films have been downloaded are trustworthy – there’s an air of ‘and the World Cup Final has 5 billion people watching’* about them – but if they are in the same ballpark as the number of actual download viewers, then it does suggest a possible new business model, at least for TV productions.

Why not create official downloads with advertisements? It’d be something like a distributed Hulu, without the expense of having to pay for the streaming bandwidth yourself. I would expect that people would be more likely to choose an official download rather than a pirated one, and wouldn’t object to sitting through some adverts to watch them – indeed, there’s probably even a way to ‘lock’ the ads, so that they have to be watched, which could also generate viewing figures for the advertisers.

OK, it’s a new field and advertisers probably wouldn’t be paying loads for it, but it’d be an interesting new revenue stream to exploit and getting into it first might be a big financial advantage in itself.

* Most of these figures are usually generated by adding up the total number of viewers who could watch the channels it’s being broadcast on, rather than the number who might actually watch it.

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We have a new contender for the list of Greatest Things Ever:

Via Graham Linehan, who states entirely reasonably: ‘This is my favourite news ever. Why isn’t this ON the news?’

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We have good news from Liverpool (via Liberal Vision), where all the important issues facing the city have clearly been solved. After all, they can’t have anything more important to deal with if they’ve got the time to carry out this consultation about giving films that feature smoking an 18 certificate in the city.

Sadly, people from outside Liverpool can’t take part in the consultation exercise, though this may be a good thing as I imagine the owners of any cinemas just outside the borders of Liverpool would be arguing strongly for it to be brought in. But if you are resident in Liverpool or representing ‘national bodies and organisations with a clear interest in the proposal’, please do feel free to take part, and tell them what a silly idea it is.

Of course, this has come from a Liberal Democrat-controlled Council, but I’ll save my condemnation of them until it’s shown that they were complicit in allowing this consultation to go for. Knowing how local government works, and seeing that this is being pushed by the local Primary Care Trust – again, it’s good to know that the people of Liverpool are so healthy they can concentrate on ideas like this – it’s entirely possible that this has got to this stage without any elected official actually seeing it. However, any action resulting from this does have to be approved by the Council, and I would hope that that would be where this nonsense ends.

For if it doesn’t, what next? Obviously, scenes involving alcohol would have to go behind the protection of an 18 certificate (sorry kids, you can’t watch The Parent Trap, as it features scenes on a vineyard with no information about the dangers of drinking), then dangerous driving would have to go and, of course, any character who ate unhealthily and didn’t suffer the fate of Mr Creosote would be far too dangerous an example for the kids to see. In short, the only James Bond safe for anyone under 18 would likely be any scenes involving Japanese food in You Only Live Twice, because you’re never too young to understand the benefits of sushi.

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It can’t just be me who, on seeing the headline ‘Star Wars to become stage spectacle‘, had visions of Star Wars: The Musical with a chorus line of dancing stormtroopers and vogueing Wookies?

Of course, if they were to do that, it’d be the first Star Wars-branded entertainment in about ten years I’d have any desire to go and see.