Frostbite or Verbals…


Sad to see that Bob Hoskins has left us today. Always seemed to me like a decent bloke, and a very convincing actor. There’s that famous yarn about him getting his first break in acting when he accompanied a mate along to a theatre and fell into an audition himself. He landed the part and the rest, as they say…

Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins: Mona Lisa

Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins: Mona Lisa 1984

Bob never knew it, (and even if he did I doubt if he’d have cared) that he got me through English A-Level. In a moment of weakness I’d neglected to read the set Shakespeare work —Othello that year (1982/3)— but, as luck would have it, the blessed BBC decided to show their production of the play staring Anthony Hopkins as the Mad Taff Moor, and Hoskins as Iago. Both were brilliant in their roles, Hoskins especially. It’s a hell of a lot easier remembering quotes and plot lines when you have a strong image of a Cock-er-ney Geezer delivering each line like he was asking for a pint and a pie down the Old Kent Road. So thanks Bob for getting me my one decent qualification. Yours is the performance by which I judge all others — which rather puts Kenny Brnnnnnnaaaaaagh at a disadvantage.

Hoskins was Roger who fell for Jessica Rabbit, could play anything from Capt Hook’s Smee, a jobsworth plumber in Brazil and a gangster in The Cotton Club. But he’ll doubtless be best remembered for his brilliant and brutal portrayal of Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday. The only thing more fascinating than the 1980 London backdrop is his peerless performance.

British cinema rightly boasts of Dickie Attenborough as Pinky Brown in Brighton Rock;  Michael Cain’s Jack Carter in the superb Get Carter, whose direct descendent is Don Logan in Sexy Beast. Standing shoulder to shoulder with these three is Harold Shand. A great British Gangster.  The Mafia ?  I’ve shit ’em

Some quotes from one of THE most quotable of all movies:

Harold: (announcing his big plans) I’m setting up the biggest deal in Europe with the hardest organization since Hitler stuck as swastika on his jockstrap.

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Pool Attendant: (informing Harold of his mate Colin’s death). They kept it all incognito. They’re gonna collect the body in an ice cream van.
Harold: There’s a lot of dignity in that, isn’t there? Going out like a raspberry ripple.

Harold: Alan found him dying. He’d been nailed to the floor.
Jeff: When was this, then?
Harold: Well, it must’ve been just after you saw him and just before Alan saw him. Otherwise, you’d have noticed, wouldn’t you? I mean, a geezer nailed to the floor. A man of your education would definitely have spotted that, wouldn’t he?

Casino Manager: It was a good night. Nothing unusual.
Harold: “Nothing unusual,” he says! Eric’s been blown to smithereens, Colin’s been carved up, and I’ve got a bomb in me casino, and you say nothing unusual?

THE-LONG-GOOD-FRIDAY

Harold: (holding a gun in his pocket) Move to the car, Billy, or I’ll blow your spine off.
Billy: That’s not a shooter, is it, Harold?
Harold: Oh don’t be silly, Billy. Would I come hunting for you with me fingers?

Harold(on learning that the Yanks have pulled out of the deal)  I’m glad I found out in time just what a partnership with a pair of wankers like you would’ve been. A sleeping partner’s one thing, but you’re in a fucking coma! No wonder you got an energy crisis your side of the water!

Harold: The Mafia? I’ve shit ’em.

Harold: (bidding The Americans a fond farewell) What I’m looking for is someone who can contribute to what England has given to the world: culture, sophistication, genius. A little bit more than an ‘ot dog, know what I mean?

Harold: (to the captured mobsters, trussed up in a deep freeze). Right… it’s up to you. Frostbite or verbals…

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Memories are Made of This.


Working from home, running one’s own highly successful clothing company gives one the access to the ample cash and leisure time necessary to be able to regularly treat the GLW to all the niceties of life and numerous nights out at the cinema to watch all this year’s Oscar-nominated movies in order to make up one’s own mind as to whose name should be revealed and the winners on the big night in Hollywood.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and you’ve got sod-all business coming your way,  you can make use of any two-for one offers on seats at the local Pictures and stick them on the ever-loving IBS credit card (and no, that’s not a typo). Or some might, I suppose, take advantage to the local hookie DVD-producer and settle down with the Missus on the couch with a bottle of Sainsbury’s own-brand vodka, a carton of orange and a tube of Pringles in front of a film which every 17.5 minutes flashes up the watermark “NOT FOR PUBLIC VIEWING. FOR ACADEMY APPROVAL ONLY).

I couldn’t bear that.

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So anyway, since we spoke on the subject last, we have managed to take in a few flicks, nominated or otherwise.  First up came Sunshine on Leith, a musical treat set in The People’s Republic of Claledonia and based, loosely around the music of The Proclaimers. Nothing bad to say about this one: it has the raw feel of The Commitments, the fun of Billy Elliot, the wit & grace of Alex Salmond (just kidding— I know those don’t exist) and the sensational soundtrack of Craig & Charlie Reid. This brought back so many happy memories for me. Not of Edinburgh (sorry, Embra), you understand—though I have spent many a wonderful wobbly weekend up there— but more clearly of the afternoon eight of us sat in a room attempting to rid a pal of a nasty ganglion on his finger.

There are many different treatments available in the NHS for the rid of these little buggers, and they were all considered at length. However we opted for the ‘patient’s’ wrist being held down by one of our group while others in the party took it in turns to— and apologies if this gents a bit to scientific and technical for you guys— whack the cyst with a copy of a Collins Dictionary (not the travel edition) or any other heavy volume or implement we could lay our hands on. As an anaesthetic we chose Red Stripe, Gordon’s (Green) and Smirnoff Blue (a bottle of which at one stage doubled as a ganglion-whacking tool).

To take the victi patient’s mind off of all this the record of choice was 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. It was played dozens and dozens and dozens of times, at full volume and right up to the cyst was treated/the police arrived/we all passed out (perm any 2 from 3).

The song is indelibly etched into my brain because of that afternoon and I cannot hear the song without recalling that particular afternoon. Unless I think of the time when a bunch of us went up to Shepherds Bush to a Proclaimers gig and, as the boys were singing 500 Miles, the bloke next to me was punching another geezer in the earhole, while a third was trying to insert a can of Tennents Lager into him. Carnage ensued.

Happy Days.

My trip down Livvery Lane was re-awakened as we next viewed The Wolf of Wall Street the other evening. Martin Scorcese’s Gordon Gecko-meets-Goodfellas epic (a movie lasting 3 hours means at least 2 pee breaks for me nowadays). This is again a fun movie, but not fun in the way you’d want to take your auntie Enid to watch it (unless auntie Enid is into cocaine abuse, foul language and group, anal sex. I know mine is.) Leonardo Dicaprio is nominated (in my house anyway) for The Best Jack Nicholson Impression since Heath Ledger played the Joker in Batman Award, which is not a criticism, I just prefer Jack playing Jack and Leo play Leo.

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The action is relentless, each scene filled with drunkenness, drug-taking orgies and the sort of behaviour that was banned from dealing rooms weeks ago. Many of the characters in the movie reminded me of my pals in the London markets whooping it up after a long hard slog in the City in the 1980s and 1990s. They worked hard and played hard. I was privileged to be invited along to many a booze-laced session of mayhem at some dive-bar or other in the square mile. They were generous to a fault and extremely welcoming, although unlike some of the players in this movie, none of those present in London ever offered to let me snort cocaine from their sphincter.

Praise be.

And so filled with warm, nostalgic,romantic glee, (as you know I always try to be), it was with some great anticipation that I settled down to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.   My parents were card-carrying members of the Dany Kaye Fan Club and I fondly remember several Sunday afternoons in front of the TV watching the original version of this classic movie, with the brilliant Kaye having my father in stitches and therefore, by extension, me in fits of laughter too. I spent more time laughing at Dad laughing at the telly that I did laughing at the telly itself. (also explains my love of Laurel & Hardy;Buster Keaton;Dad’s Army et al).

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And BOY! what memories came flooding back with this new offering from Ben Stiller. As beautiful as this movie looks, as thoughtfully directed as it is by Stiller the Director, as funny as is Stiller the Actor, as epic a journey as our hero embarks on, and as memorable a movie-going experience this is for, I’m sure, many people, it had the teeniest little flaw for me, and I suspect many like me:

Without trying to spoil the movie, (so look away now if you don’t want to read anything about it at all) or giving away the plot too much, or even reading too much into it: the movie opens and we find the titular character working in the Photo Department of LIFE Magazine in the Time Life building, New York. Ivy League 24 year-olds have decided that this Giant of a Magazine needs to be stripped to the bollocks, dispense with the services of a huge amount of staff and be replaced by an online version. What was once a world-respected publication, produced by brilliant journalists & photographers, decent people and experienced & loyal workers will soon be an App to be shred alongside Flappy Birds and Mailonline [aren’t these two the same thing?—Ed].

Walter is plagued by snooty fuckwits, hounding him about photos and even negatives— which they plainly know woefully little about— and who he regularly fantasises about beating to a pulp with his fists, or with dirty great lumps of concrete, or ripping their heads off, or throwing him off the building into the heavy London traffic below. I mean them.  I mean New York..

Seeing my shrink first thing in the morning.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY

Announcing the Losers in Reverse Order


WARNING: NO SPOILER ALERT

For the first time in a while I seem to have seen a few of the movies which all the fuss is about. As you know, I have never been one to fully embrace the full movie “experience” (see And The Winner Isn’t (Original Screenplay)) so it’s usually been the case of waiting til it comes out on DVD or Virgin (and no, I don’t have NETFLIX) before I get to see what everyone else has seen before me (which usually means I know the storyline. I haven’t yet seen Skyfall , for example, but thanks to those around me, I already know the surprises and twists and unexpected deaths).

This year,however, things are a little different. I have managed to see American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. I will be seeing very soon Wolf of Wall Street, and there is this bloke who knows a bloke who knows a bloke who can get me a copy of Texas Buyers Club, Nabraska and Captain Phillips, should I fancy them and don’t mind breaking the law (heaven forfend). All this means that I will have the opportunity to see the bulk of the Oscar-nominated movies before the ceremony actually begins (not that I’m ever likely to see the ceremony, unless I pay Messrs Branson & Murdoch a lot of money. Which I won’t ever again).

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So without giving away the plot to anyone who hasn’t see any of the above, I shall give you my considered and informed opinion and verdict on Hustle, Gravity and Slave.

They’re ok.

Gravity is a bit of fun and effects — but I hate 3D movies: all that playing with the glasses,  lifting them up & down while you’re sitting in the cinema puts me off the plot. Fortunately there’s not much of one to be put off. Clooney is charming, Bullock acts well again and er…that’s it.

Hustle is a masterclass of period detail. Well done the wardrobe dept. The girls play their parts well. erm….

Slave is 2 hrs 14 minutes of wanting something rather good to stop. (a bit like watching Charlton Athletic, without the ‘rather good’ bit). The 3 main, nominated actors are very good indeed. But…

You see…maybe I’m getting old and stuck in my ways (“No! NO! surely not!” I don’t hear you cry) but Gravity doesn’t have the feeling of epicness which 2001, Apollo 13, Moon, Silent Running or even Star Wars had/has. Hustle is a great study of the 70s, but no better than Boogie Nights, and certainly no Carlito’s Way. And Slave is a very worthy and sad movie, with a tale that needs to be told, and watched. But Schindler’ List it ain’t.

There is a movie called Prisoners, which is a rather under-stated thriller(nominated for Roger Deakins‘ photography) that is worth a look, but it’s not making many headlines, sadly.

So there you have it: Some good films indeed, just not great films. Nothing with the impact of watching the first 28 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, seeing The Godfather for the first time (or the tenth time), no The Right Stuff or even a Milk.

So by way of a trip down memory lane, when the movies really did seem to live with you long after you left the cinema (I’ve already forgotten the plot to American Hustle) and as an excuse to show some pretty cool snaps from behind the scenes (decent movie or not), have a little browse thru this lot.

They’ll have you screaming for the return of Blockbuster Video.

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The Birds. “What’s my motivation for this ?”

Laughing-Actors-Godfather

The Godfather.”I reckon this is gonna be worth one sequel, at the very most”

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Apocalypse Now. “I Hate the taste of Pepsi in the Morning”

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Planet of the Apes “Put your stinking cigarette out, you damn dirty ape! Want to buy a gun?”

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Frankenstein. “I’ve created a breakfast”

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Jaws. “We’re Gonna Need some Bigger Shorts”

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The Shining. Heeeere’s Stanley

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Psycho. “Don’t worry, my boy. After this role, the job offers will just fly in”

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2001: A Space Odyssey. “Well I don’t get the oberlisk. Do you get the oberlisk? I don’t get the oberlisk”

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Hurricane Higgins


Michael D Higgins  is the President of the Irish Republic. According to The Irish Independent today:  “A radio clip of President Michael D Higgins debating a US radio talk show host on the tea party movement has become a viral hit in the US. President Higgins, then a TD, was having the debate with conservative chat show host Michael Graham on Newstalk. Although the clip is over two years old, it has gone viral on social media in the United States – gaining almost 250,000 views on YouTube in the last 24 hours.”

I had never heard it before today. If you have, I apologise. If you haven’t, take 4 minutes, 21 seconds out of your life to listen this marvellously educated man, rise gradually to a beautiful crescendo, straight into the face of a supporter of the US Tea Party. He is my new hero – albeit 2 years after the event.

Turd Polishing**


Ah yes: Exam Results. I remember them. For some reason whenever I see on the news that today’s the day when the exam results come through, I get a chill running through my bones. I feel nauseous. The very water inside me somehow wants to get out.

Perhaps this is because it brings back memories of when I received an envelope containing my results all those years ago ? Perhaps not. It wasn’t all bad (honest) I scraped in here, and got by there. Could have been a lot worse (the teachers at school certainly predicted so). No it’s not those memories which irk me. It’s something rather more recent. Something that’s still taking place. It’s the “jumping for joy photos”.

Stick your head out of the window, listen hard and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to hear the unmistakable sound of a photographer near you organising a staggeringly unimaginative photo.

“Ok if you could spread yourself out in a line towards me… no, no, can we have the two blonde young ladies in the middle… yes, much better… now, on the count of three, could you all jump up, punch  the air and cheer ? … especially you girls… thanks very much….right here we go…one…two…three….SNAP…CLICK…SNAP…”

It happens every year (twice in the UK), and it’s happening today with the announcement of today’s A-Level results.

And it’s not necessarily the fault of the photographer. Would you believe that, in this day in age, there are national newspaper and agency picture editors who actually commission such dross ? They do, I promise you. And why ? Because above them are Chief Subs, Features Editors and other assorted numpties who deal in crap and clichés. But don’t take my word for it. Buy a paper tomorrow (any one should do) and look for yourselves. If you can’t wait, switch on TV Regional News this evening (“Local Man bit by Local Dog, Locally“). They’ll be down at their local High School or Academy filming young men and women, crying with/jumping for joy (delete where applicable).

Such imagination.

Here’s another. It’s gonna be hot this weekend. Some at the Met Office are predicting up to 30 degrees over the south of England. Queue the hot weather picture:

L-R: The Times, Indie,Guardian;               Tabloids+Telegraph;                            All of them

You can bet your left testicle (or whatever you have to hand) that you’ll find a version of the above tomorrow in your favourite rag. If I had a penny for every time someone submitted a photo of boys diving into the sea/pond/canal/fountain once the temperatures reach 28 degrees, I’d have £17.43.

Visionaries.

But the photographers don’t get off Scot free. After all, they take the snap, they ping it in to the picture desk and some berk uses it. Ca-Ching! Why on earth do you think that we’ve seen this pose endlessly over the last few weeks ?

No. Serena’s not biting that medal because she’s hungry (again), but because there’s an unwritten law amongst sports snappers which tells them that’s what Gold Medallists do.  And you know what ? – the pictures go in the paper. They get in the linen, as we used to say. (oh, and by the way, don’t think that this dreadful state of affairs will finish with the death of newspapers. Online Photo Eds and Snappers – oh, ok Monkeys – are just as (un)imaginative as are the paper ones.)

But don’t let it worry you. If you have been lucky in life and never had to listen and watch a back bench fuck-up your picture selection, you will remain unscathed by all this. I’m sure you probably think my head is about to pop off again, driven by dark memories of no-nothing subs and myopic designers ? You may or may not be correct.

I shan’t go on. Just to say, the next time you see Obama do this…

…don’t think that he’s seen someone in the crowd he recognise, it’s just that someone (probably a press officer) once told him that photos of Pointing Politicians get in the linen too. He’s not alone. They all do it. Just watch them all getting off a plane pointing; Take the applause of the crowd, pointing; Arrive in Brussels POINTING. Watch out for Barack when he wins the election. He’ll be jumping for joy.

**”You Can’t Polish a Turd, Mike”…Telegraph Photographer Roy Letkey on being asked by me how his photos were from a terribly thought-out photo shoot.