art of the title

23 07 2008

The Art of the Title Sequence – is a blog with Quicktime movies of interesting title sequences. Particularly interested is the Alien movies intros compared.

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doomsday

3 07 2008

Neil Marshall 2008

A British tale of Hadrian’s wall, mounted with automatic machine guns to massacre blood-puking plague zombies, crossed by a pneumatic one-eyed babecop to find a barking mad Malcolm Macdowell in a post-apocalyptic Scotland full of mutant punks. Sight and Sound must have loved it.

What surprised me was the sheer scale of thievery involved. Doomsday kicks off by nicking the frenzied mob of start of 28 Days Later, body swerves into the boat assault from The Usual Suspects, date-rapes the concept of Escape From New York (via The Thick of It: the George Romero version) before carving the nuts off the APC scenes from Aliens, hangs the torture scene from Lethal Weapon from a meathook, then devours the charred flesh of a kind of bovver-booted Cirque du Soleil. Then things get really weird, with crazy-eyed cheque-casher Malcolm MacDowell popping up as a kind of mad scientist Sheriff of Nottingham. Then it’s into pedal to the metal for a ludicrous jaunt down Mad Max 2‘s wreckage-strewn motorway before a final look at Alistair Campbell’s version of Downfall — followed by an ending nicked from The Dark Knight Returns.

Sounds fun, right? It kind of is, although it lacks the killer final punch of really gobsmacking moments or laugh-out-loud one-liners. Rhona Mitra’s copper carries the show as Lara Croft & Snake Plissken’s little girl taking on a series of mohicanned cannibal Frank Begbies to a soundtrack of ’80s bombast. A surprisingly committed cast, including Bob Hoskins and Alexander Siddig, seem to have convinced themselves they’re doing Chekov, which gives the unbridled bloodletting and profligate head-lopping a certain grand guignol crunchy grandeur. And yet, unbelievably, it could have done with being even more bonkers.





perspective

8 09 2007

I’ve just been doing some ego surfing, and discovered that a chap named Richard Trenholm was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross in Korea. Kind of puts things into perspective.





london 2012 logo: a friend request

10 06 2007

I like it.

The newly unveiled official logo of the 2012 London Olympics isn’t perfect: It’s a bit too fragmented. I agree with one comment I read that suggested the logo evokes a map of London’s boroughs, harshly divided. So I would like to see the four sections being a bit less opposed to each other, and that funny little block in the centre merged into the others in a more harmonious fashion. And I’m not sure about the placement or the font of ‘London.’

Otherwise, I like the thinking behind it: to avoid the obvious.

The outcry has been every bit as predictable as the proposed alternatives. Showing admirable journalistic rigour, most of the major papers (The Standard/Metro, the free gossip rags that litter the Tube, the Sun, and more) just recycled the user-generated content from the BBC’s website, which were, almost without exception, rubbish.

This week’s Coventry Telegraph featured a double-page article titled ‘Proof that a child can do better’. While the children came up with an admirable showing, they were all as predictable as the BBC readers’ efforts: lots of Union Jacks and London landmarks. Nothing wrong with that, you cry. I’m not suggesting for a second that the Union Jack should be kept off the logo because of nationalist associations. I just agree with the thinking behind the official logo that the Union Jack, Tower Bridge et al are just too literal.

As Sebastian Coe said, this logo is not a corporate brand. Almost all of the general public’s attempts have been literal, obvious, corporate brands. I thought Coe’s comment about avoiding polo shirts for doing the gardening in was quite self-aware for the Olympic folks in charge. With such politicians and corporate branding wonks, high-handed talking shop beaucratese of ‘engaging’ with the public is rarely coupled with meaningful action.

So by coming up with something that eschews the knee-jerk, lowest common denominator London landmark approach, the creators are challenging the public to think about the Olympics as a contemporary, exciting event.

Just look at previous logos: worthy, tasteful, respectable… and dull dull dull. So if they are a distillation of the Olympics, what does that say about the proceedings? I find athletics in general to be reaaally boring, but I like this logo.

And for anyone still clinging to the dream of a London landmark/Union Jack-related logo, look at the symbol of the last British Olympiad. Big Ben and the Olympic rings. Very worthy. Very tasteful. Very Respectable.

Very 1946.

Of course, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room: the small matter of the £400,000 bill. Which is by anyone’s standards, ludicrous. But the contrarian in me (who has had pretty much free reign over this post) can’t help asking:

What price great design (whether this is an example of it or not)?

A tasteful logo featuring the Olympic rings on a Union Jack might have appeased middle England, but would it have sold any T-shirts? What if the £400,000 gamble pays off?

Christ, I’m not even convincing myself on this one. £400 grand? You’re having a laugh. Selling all the T-shirts in the world wouldn’t redress this slap in the face to everyone involved in cash-strapped grassroots sport in this country. Hell, the world.

But I still like it. Kind of. Bring on the MySpace Olympics.





one man’s everyday, normal person is another man’s terrorist

8 04 2007

Heard this on the radio:

“How do you tell the difference between someone just videoing a crowded place and someone checking it out for a terrorist attack? What’s the difference between someone just hanging around and someone behaving suspiciously? How do you know if someone’s buying unusual quantities of stuff for a good reason or planning to make a bomb? How can you tell if they’re a normal everyday person or a terrorist? The answer is: you don’t.”

“You don’t have to be sure; if you suspect it, report it.” To a dedicated team of Metropolitan Police workers with the best of intentions and a real problem to fight, alright I’ll buy that, just about, but encouraging a  culture of fear, distrust and surveillance of the people around you?

I’m not sure. I know I’m unsettled by the advert… but it does raise a good point: How can you tell if someone is a normal everyday person?

I hope I’m not.





dreams of post-punk empire

8 04 2007

I was watching some of Sky News’ coverage of the Anniversary of the Falklands conflict, and was quite startled to see one of the talking heads remark that it was “the woman inside Margaret Thatcher that won the war”.

Odd, I thought it was the man inside each Para, Marine, Gurkha, and Guardsman, each soldier and sailor.

Now I’m not much for jingoism (wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along?) but like Samuel Johnston said “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.”

Although I’ve pretty much grown out of that since I stopped reading the Eagle and started watching the news.

I did start thinking though that the Falklands was the perfect war for Thatcher’s Britain. With the strikes, unemployment and general gloom of post-punk Albion, and a crisis of British identity, a good old-fashioned colonial beano was just what we needed.

The Falklands conflict had all the right echoes of empire. It was far away enough away that we could cheer the boys on over breakfast without having to scurry into the bomb shelters after dinner, or worry about nukes getting lobbed about. But despite the distance involved, the people we were liberating were just like us, and of course, we was provoked.

In military terms the whole affair was informed by all the classic imperial myth of British military might: a tinpot local ethnic chiefy (or in this case, three chiefys, the Junta) gets a bit above himself and plants his flag on British soil. There’s more Johnny Foreigners than there are Tommies but of course that never mattered: the fuzzy-wuzzys and dagoes no match for the superior kit, training and honest-to-goodness British pluck of the British soldier (except when they were.)

The contrast with Iraq couldn’t be more marked. If the Falklands made Thatcher unassailably popular, Tony Blair may have wanted the same from Iraq.
If this kind of national fillip was what Tony wanted he couldn’t have been more off the mark. Perhaps he’s ruing the lucky break that the Junta chose to set about the Falklands on Thatcher’s watch as much as her opponents have ever since.

Unlike this second Iraq expedition, and Afghanistan, the assault on the Falklands had a clear goal: send Johnny Foreigner packing. So it was short. Casualties didn’t mount by the day. The soldiers soldiered. They fought proper battles, marched to the next battle, won that one and went home. They didn’t hang around trying to be friends with unfriendly locals and worrying they could get blown up every time they got out of bed.

The go-to attitude that got the Task Force out there and back with three points on the league table affirmed our place in the international First Division, but didn’t wind up half the world’s fans and start them chucking fireworks round on our terraces.

After the Falklands, we got to feel triumphant; not shifty, unsettled, unsure why we’re still there. Sometimes when I’m watching the news I wish I’d never stopped reading the Eagle.





one clean punch

6 04 2007

It’s not too much to ask in life.