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Showing posts from January, 2019

THIS PROGRAM IS BROUGHT TO YOU IN LIVING COLOR [148]

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Nowadays, colourising black and white films are normally encountered in programmes with names like “The Second World War in Colour,” or “Hitler in Colour,” but the first time I encountered this practice was a VHS copy of a Laurel & Hardy - a version of their feature film “Way Out West,” the one where they sing “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.” Now I have a DVD that includes both this and the original black & white version, I will watch the original, because I am older, and know better. Unless you were actually there as these films were being made, or if you have done exhaustive research on the production design, looking for sources that may no longer exist, your choices for how a black & white film would look in colour may as well be informed guesswork. Regardless of the original claims made in the 1980s, when this act was prevalent, of providing films that young people were more likely to watch or, even worse, that they would have been made in colour if the o

I HAVE MY BOOKS, AND MY POETRY TO PROTECT ME [147]

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Books are the most subjective of objects. For all the facts they contain, for all the journeys their stories can take you, your books are your own, and your bookshelf is a reflection of yourself. To be without books is like being without music - incomprehensible. The act of parting with a book is a sacred process – it is deliberated, decided, and is given away or sold. Throwing a book away? That’s just not something a civilised person would do, worse than burning a flag. That book could have been for someone, if it wasn’t right for you. I began this year by providing a dozen books to a lending library-type station at my father’s work – half-way through the week, half of them had already been picked up. Good luck to their readers. When the minimalism guru Marie Kondo, in both her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying,” and her Netflix series “Tidying Up,” recommended you should keep only thirty books as, “in the end, you are going to read very few of your books again.” When

MAKIN’ FLIPPY FLOPPY, TRYIN’ TO DO MY BEST [146]

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So, there I was, looking at the post-Christmas clearance shelves in WHSmith, when it stood out like a sore thumb, that had then been hit by a hammer, a pack of ten 3.5-inch floppy discs, brand new, for £1.99. The Proustian nostalgia took over: in the days before broadband internet, and when I was studying for my degree, I would download articles from the internet, or more often only the text of a web page, then take a pile of floppy discs home and read them there. I also discovered the Pop Art painter Keith Haring at this time, and still have low-resolution GIF files of his pictures saved from sixteen to seventeen years ago. However, my first encounter with the floppy disc was as part of moving from an 8-bit computer like the Acorn Electron, requiring you to learn BASIC commands to load programmes from cassette tape, to 16-bit models like Commodore’s Amiga line where, once the disc was inserted, the computer knew what to do, and got on with it. Since then, the nature of c

IF YOU’RE BLUE AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO GO TO [145]

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My home town of Gosport, Hampshire has been in demand recently as a filming location: its 17 th Century Village attraction was used for a recent episode of “Doctor Who;” some of the science fiction horror film “It Lives,” also known as “Twenty Twenty-Four,” was filmed at the Royal Naval Submarine Museum, while the Cold War submarine HMS Alliance, based at the museum, was used in “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Reports included pictures people took of themselves with Jodie Whittaker, Sir Antony Hopkins, Mark Wahlberg, and Bumblebee... What was not picked up in this reporting is how Gosport has no cinema. 11 th April 2019 will mark twenty years since its last cinema, the Ritz, showed its final film, “LA Confidential.” Rescue attempts came and went, and the Ritz was demolished in August 2001. I began my degree in Film Studies the following month. How can someone like me, steeped in the history of film, come from a town with no cinema.  The Ritz had only ten years to ma

WE’VE GOT TO HAVE SOME MUSIC ON THE NEW FRONTIER [144]

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When it began in 1981, MTV had few videos to show. The first video, the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” was already two years old by that point, and was played twice on the first day – Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” released earlier in the year, was played five times, as was “Just Between You and Me,” by Canadian hard rock band April Wine, and The Who’s “You Better You Bet.” Therefore, if you made a video for your song, no matter what type of video it was, and no matter what genre of pop music it was, it could end up in heavy rotation. Meanwhile, Donald Fagen, of the jazz-rock duo Steely Dan, began the eight-month process of recording his first solo album, “The Nightfly.” It is a brilliant combination of fun and perfectionism – more bouncy, free and personal than Steely Dan, but still cut with a laser, and remains considered as one of the best engineered and recorded albums ever made. This success was down to Fagen’s persistence with recording his album entir

I’LL SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF [143]

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I don’t need an excuse to think about the “Back to the Future” films, but on 21 st October 2015, everybody had one – we finally reached the day when Marty McFly arrived in his own future, to stop his son from being sent to prison. Every detail was pored over: from flying cars, drones and flat-screen televisions to hands-free computer games, hoverboards, and paying for items using your fingerprints. However, all the misses were also scrutinised: continued use of fax machines, hydrated food, self-drying jackets, and nineteen Jaws films. The makers of the film disliked films that tried to predict the future, but they knew they must have flying cars in their own. Time travel itself appears to have been a moot point. Having reached 2019, it is now time to break out my copies of “Blade Runner” and “Akira,” both films set “this year,” not to compare with real life, or to compare with each other, but because a coincidence of their settings have made them timely. I am opposed to running a