I would love Netflix to push their deal with BBC even further and get a lot more old shows up, there’s so many old BBC shows that deserved to be up there, not just comedy. Lovejoy needs a home.
It’s on UKTV Play!
I’ve seen quite a few reports suggesting big things are on the horizon for iPlayer, so it may be that they are planning to expand access to their archives through that. In which case I can see why they might be resistant to adding to the Netflix deal.
In other news, Sky have started a weird deal with Channel 4, where they have the full season of No Offence S3 available to watch on Sky starting today, while it’s still only week-to-week on Channel 4 and 4oD.
That makes no sense. Very strange. Thanks for the Lovejoy heads up.
Yeah, it’s an odd choice. I don’t get pre-transmission box set releases at the best of times, but not doing it on your own service is bonkers. I guess it was part of their bargaining to get some scrap of F1 coverage next year (highlights of every race and the British GP live).
Keeping up with watching all the movies in my collection in chronological order and sharing thoughts on Facebook. Here are the last 5:
Phantom of the Paradise
This is one I hadn’t seen for a while, certainly not since Daft Punk hired Paul Williams and essentially copped to lifting some of this film’s imagery and ideas wholesale. As an ancestor of Daft Punk, the father of Brian De Palma’s career, and an older brother to Rocky Horror, I’m not why this movie isn’t higher in the modern cult canon. It’s electric filmmaking, and the new Blu Ray is tremendous. The 70s look at 50s culture (this, Rocky Horror, John Waters) is a lot more engaging than the 10s look at 90s culture.
Taking of the Pelham 123
Probably the ultimate “dirty old New York” movie, in how it gets down into the machine, and looks at the men and women who are deep in it, making it run. They’re born in those frumpy suits, at those desks, giving each other shit in those inevitable accents. They’re cells in the body of New York City, and then a virus comes in and they’ve got to get rid of it. Nobody ever talks about the movie’s brilliant jazzy score, too.
Kubrick’s best, which on some days makes it the best by anyone. I once wrote about this movie in a professional capacity:
As with most Argento, it’s not scary—there isn’t enough throughline of a narrative to care. This film, like all of his films, mostly exists for its 10-minute spurts in which murder is treated as technicolor, psychedelic performance art.
Dog Day Afternoon
Another “dirty old New York” staple although not so much as so much of it takes place in an interior space—the bank that is being robbed, and the psyche of Al Pacino’s character. Even setting aside his complicated relationship with his sexuality, in prior viewings I never noticed how much this movie is about mental health, the way your impulses and urges pull you in all these directions you don’t understand and sometimes betray you. The “This is Your Life” nature of the film’s narrative cements the theory.
Yes, a classic/
A friend of mine’s aunt was one of the hostages in the real bank robbery.
This is one of my all time favorite movies. I was probably 6 or 7 when I first saw it and it made such an impression on me. It was the early days of cable in the 1970s and may have been one of the first R rated movies I ever saw. It is so over the top and fun.
In one of the Whitney Biennials in the mid 2000s there was a video installation in which they recreated scenes from the movie using the actual people from the robbery who are still alive. I wonder if your aunt was in that.
Spent the whole week watching Isle of Dogs. In unrelated news I really love Isle of Dogs.
I think she left NYC after 9/11 but I’ll have to ask him if she did. That would be really cool.
In a total flashback, I watched the first series of Blakes 7 this week.
And it’s odd, beause I know I watched the show as a kid - the last scene is one of the most prominent memories I have of watching TV at a young age. But with the exceptoon of a random repeat here or there, I’ve not seen the show in decades. So it’s very interesting to revisit.
The show isvery much a mixed bag. There’s some fantastic production work - the Liberator’s standing sets look great, the weapons and equipment Blake and his compatriots carry are high-quality, the costume work is phenomenal - I’m a suckder for a cool jacket, and the characters have survival gear that is frequently worn when they travel to planeary surfaces that have the really nice, heavy jackets with fantastic colour co-ordination, great lines, and hoods. And that extends into the regular spaceclothes as well - some of the fashions are incredibly 70s, but they just look dated rather than bad. The show shoots on location a lot, including a lot of interior work (presumably they took over industrial facilities, dressed them up and used them as SF sets), so a lot of the show is shot on film, and looks really good as a result - BBC standard policy at the time was to shoot on video when on set, and film when on location, which meant the picture quality was much greater for location filming.
But at the same time, those production vaues frequently fall down in other areas - the props and costumes that secondary and one-off characters have often don’t stand up to the same scrutiny, and the practical effects were largely handled by the same teams as Doctor Who, so they’re similarly limited from a technical perspective. A lot of creative camerawork is used to try and cover-up for limited effects capabilities as well.
Story-wise, there’s that same mixed bag - the core concept is brilliant, it’s like Star Trek, but with a cynical British eye applied. A filter of Orwell and Huxley has been placed over the colourful American optimism, and it makes for a fantastic setting. The Federation military uniform is evocative of riot police, as would have been seen frequently on the news in Northern Ireland at the time of production. While Star Wars would use faceless stormtroopers as a way to sanitise the movie’s violence, here it’s a symbol of anonymous authority. The fact that Blake is an idealist, but his companions are often not - especially Avon - provides for a lot of dramatic tension and also comedy, as various characters squabble and pass sarcastic comments.
Like the pratical aspects however, the storytelling from episode to episode is a mixed bag. The strongest elements are probably the first four episodes, which set up the overall narrative. After that, the episodes in which Travis and Servalan - the show’s recurring antagonists appear are generally good, while the others really do feel like Star Trek, only cynical. (Ther’s one episode where Blake wants to return an exiled politician to his homeworld, and when they meet the politician assumes Blake is an assassin sent to killhim now that it’s politically expedent to do so. Which is amusing)
It’s fascinating to see this now, with the context of all the later SF shows it influenced directly or indirectly. There’s bits of Blakes 7 in shows ranging from Babylon 5 through Farscape, Firefly and even The Expanse. I’d love to see one of the remake attempts for this succeed, or maybe a spiritual sequel that does the similar doomed revolution against a huge imperialist power type epic.
If you watch the credits for Blake’s 7 you’ll see the name Sheelagh Wells doing makeup. She grew up over the road from me and ended up marrying Gareth Thomas. I’d often see him in the corner shop when they were visiting her mother and my dad used to pretend to us (I was maybe 7 or 8 at the time) that it was Blake come to visit from space. Thomas used to play along saying things "have to head back to The Liberator now, bye’ as he left the shop.
Blake’s 7 is something I’ve been meaning to watch fully for a while now. I watched the first couple of episodes a few years back and found it fairly impressive (and interestingly bleak) although I think I had more problems with the design work than you. All the stuff on Earth in the first episode looked naff, with the props made out of transparent perspex really sticking out. This is probably a generational thing - I can see how it would have looked dead futuristic at the time - but growing up in the early 90s that kind of stuff was all over primary school classrooms and felt dated even then.
Still, my first experiences with Blake’s 7 were on UK Gold in the mid 90s, where it was shown (usually) after Doctor Who omnibuses on weekend mornings. The time would vary from week to week (based on the length of the Who omnibus), so I was forever putting it on in the middle of an episode and trying to work out if it was a 70s Who or a Blake’s 7. The Blake’s 7 theme will forever remain for me a signifier of disappointment of getting up too late to catch Doctor Who.
Caught Jigsaw on Netflix.
I’ve not watched one of them for a while and I think I’ve only watched about 3 of them in total.
I found it perfectly watchable, no more, no less.
Recently if I’m watching something at home and I lose interest I just switch it off or fast forward to the end, this kept me going all the way though, which these days is more of an aceivement than it used to be.
Oh man, I hated that movie.
With the Saw movies, the torture stuff and moral conundrums are interesting enough (the best gore uses practical effects, and they often go CGI, but whatever). However the police procedural parts of those movies are unwatchable to me.
Wondering where it was going kinda kept me on the hook to an extent.
I think I’d have had lesser different opinion if I’d take the time and money to watch it in the cinema.
And that’s why Netflix hired Adam Sandler.
Really, it is. His fans are still legion but they’re too old/lazy/stoned/poor to go see him in cinemas anymore.