July 6th, 2004



There I was, redecorating the flat and arranging the complimentary fruit basket, only to find out I'd been passed over in favour of Sid Griffin. His themed Byrds Breakfast (Two eggs Gene Clark, hickory wind bacon, David Crosby's Cumberland sausage, mountain thyme mushrooms, sweetbreads of the Rodeo, toast, tea/coffee - no substitutes) isn't a patch on the sort of spread you can get here at Sarmoung Mansions. The mandolin playing is of a better standard too... Oh well, it doesn't look like I'll be accomodating Amy Rigby and daughter over the weekend. I had visions of becoming London's leading B&B for visiting country singers. I guess I'll have to find myself another career.

It's been a while since I've reviewed any films here, so here's two that I watched last night.

I thought I'd have another look at this, given the Kubrick weekend (that's rather a lot of name-dropping so far this morning). The biggest disappointment was that the video shop's DVD was a transfer of an earlier pan-and-scan version, so I lost the original framing.

What's the actual point of the Scatman Crothers character (Dick Hallorann)? It's established early on in the film that Danny, the child, has this psychic ability. Would the story work better without it? The hotel is clearly haunted. So why establish that the child is gifted prior to their arrival? I suppose it signposts that weirdness this way comes, but how about the child just being an ordinary one who changes in an extraordinary situation? Hallorann's only purpose, that I can see, is to provide a backstory of a man making his way across from Florida, just so he can get an axe in his chest. This helps to break up events at the hotel. He's built up as the conquering hero, but, oh shit... Could the story be better without him? Given that all characters by this point are witnessing/interacting with these other hotel guests. All in all, it's probably the right decision to leave him in.

The film seemed a bit over-powered by Jack Nicholson. Shelley Duvall, as Wendy, isn't the sort of female character you could get away with now. Women are now generally expected to be able to operate baseball bats and kitchen knives far more confidently in these situations. I did find myself thinking "Don't be such a wuss! Really whack him on the head!" You could argue whether this is a more realistic portrayal of someone in a state of extreme fear or not. If the abusive nature of the family set-up had been established a little more strongly, then maybe I'd find her constant arm flapping a bit more convincing. It was like dream fear. Maybe that's why it's so overplayed.

I'm intrigued to see that there was a TV version in 1997, where Stephen King got his hands back on the script. There's a long thread of comparison reviews. King's sounds rather heavy on the CGI. The only thing CGI might have added to Kubrick's was the ability to blot out that helicopter shadow in the opening shot. I'm also aghast to note that the Japanese version is 154 minutes and the US is 146, compared to a mere 119 for the UK cut.

I was wondering whether to watch Eyes Wide Shut, which I've never seen all the way through. I was swayed by the fact that something had been niggling at me after seeing one of the Kubrick grandchildren zooming around on a small bike all weekend. Ah, that's why...

This had been winking at me for a while on the shelf, but I've never been completely convinced by Miike Takashi. That was a mistaken opinion to hold. I rather enjoyed it. It just seemed like a typical Japanese family multiplied by factor n. I wouldn't watch it with my mum though. Some parts I though were wonderful, but I shan't spoil it for you. It reminded me a little of Fassbinder's Satan's Brew.

Now, to work...