Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa [2013)

Well, not everything can be a masterpiece ūüôā

And while this film (known in the U.S. simply as¬†Alan Partridge) has its moments, it’s a rather lackluster affair overall.

But something kept me watching.

I suppose it was the sheer talent of Steve Coogan.

Bloke’s got a real gift.

But this film just didn’t really do him justice.

24 Hour Party People was much better (if I remember correctly).

At any rate, Alan Partridge is set in Norwich.

Which is in Norfolk.

Which is in East Anglia.

Yes, Mr. Partridge is a pretty shallow gent.

The context, by the way, is that of a radio station.

The film’s action mostly takes place at a radio studio.

It’s a bit of a tense film, but always long on humor.

I must give the director Declan Lowney credit.

There are some quirky bits which work quite well.

And so, perhaps I just haven’t understood this film.

It was relatively enjoyable.

I don’t want an hour and a half of my life back.

It wasn’t that bad.

But something was a bit off.

I must say, the concept was relatively sound.

[no pun intended]

Somehow the execution of the concept was less than stellar.

The acting was all fairly decent.

No doubt that Coogan was the star.

Really, I don’t know quite what to say about this one.

I wouldn’t recommend it as a life-changing film.

It’s relatively light and enjoyable, but there are a good many guns in the film.

The premise is, as stated, quite tense.

If you work in a radio station, you might find certain parts funnier than I did.

At any rate, it was great to know that Steve Coogan’s still got it.

I will be looking out for more of his wonderful performances in the future.

Cheerio!

-PD

#6 Mr. Bean Rides Again [1992)

This one is darn near perfect.

And I needed it.

After an all-nighter devoted to a Power Point presentation, this got a hearty laugh from me throughout.

We really see Bean’s dark humour start coming to the fore here.

Likewise, we start to realize by now that Bean’s middle name must certainly be “Ingenuity”.

But his genius is a sort of Rube Goldberg variety.

For Bean, it’s all about the process…the journey.

It must be:  he seems to miss his destination an overwhelming majority of the time.

Whether he makes it to the beach or not is immaterial.

It’s that he starts off by packing six cans of Heinz Baked Beans.

No can opener.

Just the beans, thank you very much.

For those of us in America, this makes less sense without a bit of experience.

My one and only trip to Great Britain was an eye-opener.

The English eat beans for breakfast!

Not only that, but some sautéed mushrooms and maybe a boiled tomato.

Sausage and a rasher of bacon.

And eggs:  runny as Usain Bolt.

It all mixes together into a mélange of heartiness.

THAT is a true English breakfast!

A working-man’s meal.

Ahh, I miss those days.

So short and fleeting.

But with Mr. Bean, I am back in the magical mundane of English society.

The Royal Mail.

The politeness.

The grasp of my mother tongue.

Feeling rather “poorly”…

Yes, a glorious grasp on the language.

Of course, I could listen to the lads in Oasis talk all day long.

High and low.

And the Midlands.

God save the Queen!

We mean it, man ūüėČ

 

-PD

 

 

SNL Season 1 Episode 11 [1976)

Just as Buck Henry had me stumped in the last episode (Buck Who?), Peter Cook threw me for a loop right off the bat here.

Dudley Moore I knew, but Cook?  No idea.  In terms of firsts, this appears to be the first SNL hosted by more than one person (simultaneously).

Cook met Moore while at Cambridge University as a student (Cook) of Radley and (later) Pembroke Colleges.¬† Moore, on the other hand, was himself a student at Magdalene College (pronounced “maudlin”) of Oxford University.¬† They started performing together in these school days.

But the act which Cook and Moore were essentially reviving on this night in 1976 was their comedy duo which powered the BBC’s Not Only…But Also (1965-1970).¬† We can be fairly confident of this based on their throwback chestnut Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling.

Sir Streeb-Greebling’s featured skit (Table Talk) is one of the highlights of this episode.¬† In it, we learn of the knighted eccentric’s restaurant Frog & Peach (which serves, unsurprisingly, frog…and peaches [exclusively]).¬† If I remember correctly, the two dishes on the menu are frog √† la p√™che and, conversely, p√™che √† la frog.¬† This bit of absurd, excellent humor is indicative of the talents which Cook and Moore possessed as both writers and comedians.

Cook and Moore additionally did film work together such as Bedazzled (1967).¬† For all of you Yo La Tengo fans out there, this gives me an opportunity to wax informative on the song “Tom Courtenay”.¬† It is one of my favorite YLT songs (from the excellent Electr-O-Pura album). ¬†Perusing the lyric sheet of the above song, not only is English actor Courtenay mentioned in the title (the narrative is likely from his perspective) but Julie Christie makes an appearance (her name being the first words sung by Ira Kaplan).¬† For our purposes, however, it is simply enough to point out that the real “star” of said lyrics (Eleanor Bron) played Margaret Spencer in Bedazzled.

Moving on…

Now that I have spent an inordinate amount of time on Cook and Moore, I should point out something important.  Saturday Night Live in its inaugural season was attracting what might be called B-list entertainers.  To illustrate this point, I would direct readers to my piece on the previous episode.  To have Bill Withers do but one song and have it be a tune from 1971 (on a 1976 broadcast) illustrates this point which has a parallel in Cook and Moore (who were ostensibly rehashing material from their show which ran 1965-1970).

But credit must be given to the comedic duo in question who persevered and relocated to New York City in 1973.¬† They did, in fact, win a Tony and Grammy for their production Good Evening.¬† This success was parlayed (partially) into a more risqu√© act where they assumed the personalities Derek and Clive.¬† In total, this new incarnation was featured on three LPs (that would be, for the young’uns,¬†VI-NYL/RE-CORDS).

Ok, so Cook and Moore weren’t totally washed up.¬† That much is obvious when seeing this episode.¬† In fact, I find their humor much more effective than most of the hacks which preceded them as hosts.¬† The “One Legged Tarzan” skit near the top of the show exemplifies their shrewd method of laugh-getting.

It should also be¬†mentioned that stars on one side of the pond aren’t¬†necessarily stars on the other.¬† And so, dear readers, you must forgive my ignorance regarding Cook.¬† I have now done my research.

I should mention a further two bits.  Cook himself went on to work with some of my favorite musical acts (Sparks and 10cc).  That Ron Mael, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme saw something in this chap is good enough for me.

Again, the separation between British and American entertainment really can’t be overemphasized.¬† I know there is a Doctor Who craze in the States now, but (back to Peter Cook) this bloke had a bleeding planet named after him in 1999 [20468 Petercook].

Furthermore, I am ashamed to say that I needed Wikipedia to tell me that Mr. Cook gave the world “mayorwidge” as the clergyman in The Princess Bride (1987).

Ok, ok…enough about Cook.¬† [I’ve hardly said a word about Moore, but we must press on.]

This is generally a great episode (with the notable exception of Neil Sedaka).¬† I really don’t want to hate on this guy, but his repertoire…ugh. And his sartorial choices (burgundy velvet jacket).¬† The jacket would have been great if he didn’t have Meathead’s haircut (Rob Reiner…Archie Bunker).¬† [“And now I would like to impersonate the Archie Bunker.¬† (…)¬† Tank you veddy much.”]

To be fair, Sedaka had talent.¬† Singing voice?¬† Check.¬† Piano chops?¬† Check.¬† But the schmaltz gluing it all together is what made it unpalatable.¬† Not to mention, what was an MOR guy like this doing on such a counterculture show as SNL?¬† Look to the corner office, my friend…the corner office.

On the whole, a great episode.¬† Just bite the bullet when Neil starts crooning ūüôā

 

-PD

 

 

How I Live Now [2013)

I have a keen eye for bullshit.  But only in certain areas.

We all have our specialties.  We all have our areas of knowledge.

Just to be clear, this film is not bullshit.  This is quite a good film.

But there is an element of this film which is pure propaganda bollocks.

I’m very sensitive to propaganda.¬† Allergic, you might say.

On the one hand, I can sniff out a false-flag a mile off.

On the other, I make a habit of rewatching James Bond films.

No one is totally immune to propaganda.

It takes a deep understanding of the self to assess what is really going on.

Movies, music, literature, painting…all of these arts play on the emotions.

Artists are ALL emotionally intelligent insofar as their lexicon of emotional triggers is robust and bursting at the seams.

This does not mean that artists are well-adjusted.  Rather, the reality is often quite the contrary.

In this film, our heroine Saoirse Ronan is not at all well-adjusted.

Upon first seeing her arrive at the airport (our film’s first scene) we assume she might be some kind of pop star.

The reality is that she’s merely a spoiled brat from America who’s pilfered Devendra Banhart’s stylist.

Yes, Daisy (Ronan) has quite a look here.¬† She oozes “hip” from the outset.¬† She also oozes the angst of conflict.

An angry girl.  Never knew her mother.  Voices in her head.  On psychotropic medication.  Hypochondriac.

It is hard to confront this film without knowing that it is “post-apocalyptic” (such a buzzword in the less-talented cadres of Hollywood).

Being so informed, we notice as Daisy’s plane lands in scene #1 that Paris has been bombed.¬† It looks serious.

Daisy seemingly couldn’t care less.

And just where has she landed?  Somewhere in England or Great Britain.

And so off to the country to stay with cousins for the summer.  Not her usual routine.  First time to visit these relatives.

The story is powerful.  The story is lovely.  The acting is tremendous.

But slowly the bullshit creeps in and cannot be ignored.

And just what bullshit of propaganda has this film swallowed to then spit out at us?

Terrorism.  The oogly-boogly bogeyman of hidden hand terrorism.

It is all very unimaginative.  There is nothing here to indicate that the writers or directors have ever gotten their news from

anyplace other than the BBC or CNN.

Though they never say “Islamic terrorists,” the frightfully dumb premise is advanced with absolutely no critical thinking evident.

In other words, if this film was a religion, its Bible would be the 9/11 Commission Report (the layman’s title).

And so these terrorists with magical powers somehow invade an otherwise fine movie.

It is like the Red Scare.¬† The terrorists are everywhere.¬† They’re unstoppable.¬† Ha…

It is really sad when such hackneyed brainwashing passes for erudition.

And so, in some ways this film is no better than Fox News.¬† Sure, films are allowed to take poetic license and “play” on our fears.

But in our current world, the stakes are too high to sink millions of dollars into vehicles such as this which merely reinforce the lies of the fraudulent global war ON terror.

How many times must it be repeated that terror cannot be fought with more terror?

That is like aiming to eliminate the scourge of forest fires by burning the flames themselves.  Ludicrous.

But we do not simply refer to the error of approach.

The fundamental truth is that the war on terror is a charade.

There is big money to be made by blaming Islam for all the world’s evils.

And as Islamic countries are plundered we see the cowed world populace let their brothers and sisters in the Middle East be sacrificed for an inhuman system which needs total control to expand.

It really is, then, a joke to talk about free markets.

And so, to put it succinctly, we have many intelligence agencies to “thank” for our current imbroglio.

The American CIA must certainly take a bow.  The NSA likewise should be recognized for their part in the global reign of terror.

But let us not leave out Mossad.  Cui bono?

But really, it takes a village of intelligence agencies to raise the demonic child known as ISIS.¬† And so we must thank James Bond’s MI6.¬† We should likewise not leave out the Saudis and Pakistan’s ISI.

The artist formerly known as al-Qaeda (now rebranded as ISIS) has been very useful to the Western powers.

Russia and China had the opportunity to call bullshit long ago, but they squandered that moment.  And now the world really is closer to WWIII.

It is not easy to pay attention to a film which gives credence to fake terrorism.  Fake terror.  Synthetic terrorism.  False-flag terrorism.

But all is not lost.

Someone (perhaps director Kevin Macdonald) has at least read his Orwell.¬† Yes, ladies and gentlemen, things go very badly for all involved when lies become truth.¬† When self-inflicted attacks precipitate martial law…

And so the British troops in this film are not portrayed in a propagandistic light.¬† Quite the contrary, they display the insolence of misplaced power.¬† Power upon which there are no checks…

The government troops in this film are paranoiacs with automatic weapons.  Sound familiar?  Yes.  We are told that such types are a menace to society (and they are).  Unfortunately, your tax dollars are paying their salaries.

But this is not about military bashing.¬† To extrapolate from the statements of NSA whistleblower Wiliam Binney, it’s only in the upper 15% where you see the real hardcore corruption.¬† What do we mean “corrupt”???

Those who would sell their own country out.  The moles in the FBI and CIA who allowed and facilitated (respectively) 9/11.  The high-ranking military and government officials who were likewise moles.  The highest level.

And so we have great sympathy for our military men and women knowing that their corrupt leaders (at the very top) have no real allegiance to country or fellow soldier.¬† There are exceptions, but consider the words of Binney.¬† The top 15%…that is where the real culprits are.¬† They are among the good leaders.

But this begs a question:¬† does one have to be a scumbag to advance to such echelons of power?¬† I’m afraid the answer may very well be a resounding “yes”…¬† And so, at the upper level of governments, intelligence agencies, militaries, etc. we are faced with finding the lesser of evils.¬† We would much prefer adulterers, drug addicts, etc. to psychopathic criminals.

I will be the first to admit that my diatribe is not really fair to this film.

This is quite an excellent film.¬† But artists cannot play with gelatinous archetypes like “terrorism” and expect a free pass.

There is glorious acting in this film (for Christ’s sake).

It pains me to write so much about the premise.

For fuck’s sake, don’t copy the fear-mongering of Fox News.¬† Those “journalists” will have their Nuremberg.¬† They will have no press passes.¬† They’ll be on the stand.

Don’t sully yourself in that stream.¬† Look at your box office.¬† $60,213.¬† Sixty-thousand measly dollars!¬† If you had put Ronan and George MacKay in a room together with no script they would have surpassed the trite constraints laid upon them (presumably) by Meg Rosoff’s novel. Dear Rosoff:¬† whatever paper you read, cancel the subscription.

-PD