"Art is not a mirror with which to reflect the world; it is a hammer with which to shape it"

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Channel Zero

As I’m really quite nice, underneath, and I haven’t done much for you recently, I thought I’d point you in the direction of some television you might have otherwise not noticed and, if this is of any use to anybody, I might do it again… let me know in the traditional manner… self-addressed bricks through the windows…

BBC1: 8.30 pm: Casualty: I wouldn’t usually mention Casualty but tonight sees the debut of a new character and aptly illustrates a particular bugbear of mine. The new character is played by Gillian Kearney, representative of those genuinely talented actors who are inexplicably and utterly under-utilized by the tele-bods. Take the Blue Murder Pilot: it became quite abundantly clear that Caroline Quentin, while carrying the whole show, is not the best actress in the world and, as if to illustrate the point, they surrounded her with superior actors… while Kearney was relegated to guest suspect… staggering!

Channel 4: 12.50am: The Man Who Wasn’t There: possibly the best of the Coen Brothers’ canon. Still very cold and soulless though. Superb photography.

BBC4: 10.55pm: Bad Education: Not the best of Almodovar but B-Grade Almodovar is still far better than most people’s A-Grade work.

BBC1: 9.00pm: Messiah: Part 1 (Part 2 on Monday): Will probably be deeply unpleasantly and thoroughly watchable.

BBC1: 11.10pm: The Whistle Blower: Michael Caine ‘sort of spy film’. I really liked it but very few people seem have actually seen or even heard of it. Shot just down the road from me…

ITV: 10.40pm: South Bank Show: Tim Burton. Nothing else to say.

Channel 5: 3.20pm: Three Days Of A Condor: Sydney Pollack’s brilliant conspiracy thriller being shown at a really stupid time of day… it will be cut for it’s sex scene and violence but as it is still unreleased on disc or tape in the UK, if you haven’t caught it before, is probably worth setting a VCR for…

Channel 4: 8.00pm: Dispatches: The Court Of Ken.

BBC2: 11.20pm: Atom Part 1: I’ve heard this is excellent and very accessible to the lay person. And I’m sure it was praised here but I can’t find the post which makes me the kind of ignorant lay person it’s aimed at!

BBC2: 9.00pm: Torchwood: Something you’ve probably already heard about… written by some bloke called James Moran

I’ll certainly be watching but I have a small confession about Torchwood: I’m not a big fan. I watched a couple of episodes from the first series and, combined with the concomitant episodes of Doctor Who, I can only say that I just can’t take Captain Jack Harkness seriously… I keep expecting him to break into a chorus of ‘When You’re A Jet’! I just find him a bit too shiny, a bit too pretty and he just doesn’t feel particularly heroic- more a poseur. I’ve met military and ex-military people and one of them he is not. If you dress someone military, they should act military but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be über-macho: but seriously, compare Harkness with David Niven in A Matter Of Life And Death. Everything else about the programme is fine... However, I’m sure that this particular episode is utterly wonderful, lovely and beautifully written! Watch it!

More4: 10.35pm: 9/11: The Falling Man: Yes, it’s a repeat but one that can certainly bear a repeat viewing. It’s a long, emotional an quite draining documentary that’s technically an attempt to identify the ‘falling man’ of the iconic 9/11 photo but it’s just as much an examination of the cost of the tragedy to the victim’s families and a look into the redefinition of what was acceptable in the media in relationship to the event through the fate of the photograph itself.

BBC2: 11.20pm: Louis Theroux: Behind Bars: if you missed last Sunday this is well worth catching… Theroux manages to completely tone down his faux naïve thing and come up with something somewhat different in a look behind the bars of San Quentin prison.

BBC4: 11.30: A Hard Day’s Night: Classic Beatles musical comedy directed by the seriously under-rated Richard Lester…


Valentine Suicide said...

Surely "Miller's Crossing" is a better bet than "The Man Who Wasn't There"?

Jon Peacey said...

I should possibly have added the caveat that I'm not the Coens' biggest fan. I find they tend towards the overly-referential and soulless (which if I'm honest is an increasing problem with quite a bit of US Indie cinema). I didn't get on with Miller's Crossing although I haven't seen it for years, so maybe it's time to give it another go...

I know a lot of people love the Coens though and my view is in a minority. I will, however, strongly defend Hudsucker, O Brother and Man Who Wasn't There. I'm also the sole person to like Intolerable Cruelty.

By the way, I'm glad you're still stopping by; after my hiatus I thought everybody might have forgotten about me!

Chip Smith said...

I saw Miller's Crossing in the front row of Cambridge Arts Cinema when it first came out - I still haven't a clue what it's about, mostly because sitting in the front row gave everything a weird foreshortened effect, like looking up at a skycraper. I remember Albert Finney hiding under a bed - is it worth another go?

Jon Peacey said...

There are many that would say so; I probably ought to myself.

I saw Reservoir Dogs from right in the front row of a near empty cinema because one of the guys in the group said, 'it's the best way to see films'. Rest assured, I've since had this fool shot, stuffed and mounted...

Valentine Suicide said...

I would suggest Miller's Crossing is well worth another shot. I can't count myself as a huge Coens fan. (I enjoyed both 'Fargo' and 'Raising Arizona') I just happen to think the quirkiness was at an acceptable level ( I really like that ongoing stuff with the hats), and the dialogue was lovely and snappy ("Take yer Flunkie and Dangle!"). It was one of my favourites of the nineties.