Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Man-flu and Multi-tasking

I've not been well for the past few days, having caught whatever it was my wife had. Some sort of nasty cold thing.

Being male this had a serious effect on my ability to function, and I was laid up in bed for half a day. But this morning I had a revelation, the apparent difference between men and women who have a bad cold or flu? It's down to multi-tasking.

Women can be ill and do other things, while men can only be ill. Obvious.

I watched a fair amount of TV, but not an excessive amount: The obvious, of course: Dr Who: The Next Doctor. Yes, quite liked it. Not ecstatic to the point of geek-gasm, but good. Essentially I was disappointed by the cyber-shades. And I felt there was some missing logic as to why the kids were operating the engine, but weren't needed after things got cooking. I like my logic to exist even if it's throwaway. (Perhaps I missed it.)

There is a brilliant line in Big Trouble in Little China, near the end where the good guys are escaping from the lair of the bad guy. They've been split up and somehow one group (A) have got much further than the group with the heroes in it (B). And (A) is in a position to rescue (B) from certain death ... but how did (A) get into their superior position? It's a problem and it needs explaining for the audience. The writer solves it brilliantly in two short lines:

B: "How did you get up there?"

A: "It wasn't easy"

Problem solved.

This issue also came up in the Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (been around a few years but I had't seen it) last night. In case anyone is wondering, this was an original story, not a Conan Doyle. I should know I've read them all. I also quite liked this although, as my daughter said, it was more like an episode of Criminal Minds. (By the way, I was a bit surprised when they referred to the CID Criminal Investigation Department, but it turns out the London CID was formed in 1878.)

The story contained many little splashes of genuine Conan Doyle which I recognised, but there were various issues, such as the fact Holmes never worked so closely with the Police. It needed justification. As did the throwing of the Ball by a family that had lost a daughter three days earlier and the mother in a sanitorium due to it. It just wouldn't have happened. And there were so many ways around it (Holmes insisting they hold it to trap the criminal would have made a nice scene).

But on the whole, I liked it.

I can't say the same about the new The 39 Steps. There was so much wrong with this, not least the machine guns mounted on the biplane in 1914, and the plane's insignia completely wrong. I'm not a plane buff but I know my Biggles. And used to thumb through Jane's Military Aircraft in our local library when I was young.


But the end: After the bad guys have either been shot or taken away Hannay is talking to Victoria, and one of the dead huns suddenly rises up and shoots Victoria, Hannay then shoots him dead, properly dead this time. Hannay spends time trying to find her body in the loch but fails. She's dead and gone.

Except she isn't. It was a trick, she's really alive and going undercover as a spy in Germany. What?

Look: How did they know the German wasn't really dead and was going to shoot her, so that they could set up her fake death? Did they put blanks in his gun to ensure he didn't actually hurt anyone? Or was he really a double-agent primed to pretend to kill Victoria? But if he's a double agent that makes the whole plot meaningless, and Hannay has just killed him.

It's utterly preposterous whichever way you look at it.

#### END SPOILER ####

I don't mind them doing their own version, book adaptations require changes, but at least let's have some internal logic. Read the book or watch any of the film adaptations instead of this.

Back to Christmas Day. Am I getting curmudgeonly in my old age? I felt there was something missing from Wallace and Gromit's A Matter of Loaf or Death. Compared to the others it felt superficial, there were the movie references which are always fun, particularly to Aliens at the end.

The household received dozens of DVDs and books this year, which was great, Mamma Mia was fun and you can't knock the music. Watching the DVD extras revealed the interesting fact that although the cast pre-recorded all the songs in the studio, much of what appeared in the movie was them singing live on set. Meryl Streep goes up another few notches in my estimation - there aren't many notches left. Pierce Brosnan is not a bad singer, it's just his voice isn't designed for ABBA songs.

The Dark Knight: Pretty good. Heath Ledger was impressive though I suspect he wouldn't get an Oscar is he wasn't dead.

Moonstruck: Cher deserved her award for this, she is superb and it's a brilliant movie. Very Italian. And a very young Nicolas Cage. The daughter had never seen it, and is now quoting it.

All the Indiana Jones: And then we watched them all back to back on Boxing Day. In previous years we've watched the entirety of the extended Lord of the Rings (set aside 12 hours), but decided to do Indiana this year. Next year we might do Studio Gibli...

Spirited Away: I can't decide which Gibli film I prefer.

Oooh, and Santa left me a copy of the Watchmen graphic novel, I read it when it first came out but hadn't seen it since. It stays with you. I do hope they get the movie right.

What's on the turntable? "Metteng Excuske V1.2" by Squarepusher from "Go Plastic" (I'm eclectic me.)

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