20/10/2005

So bad it's good?

I lost two hours of my life last night. That is both a very bad pun and the literal truth, for I watched two episodes of Lost on television, back to back. As well as forcing me to question my lifestyle choices, it also raised a fair few issues relevant, I think, to modern cinema. Yes, yes, it’s a TV show, but it is certainly the bastard son of 1970s B Movies and 1990s mainstream action films.

My main problem while watching was that I was, and am, gripped by it. It is a bad show in many ways. Just how far can a TV show expect an audience to suspend their disbelief? How many modelling agencies crash on desert Islands? How many of them have a token representative of the country America are currently bombing – especially one played by an actor who clearly isn’t of that same ethnic origin? How does a fat guy not lose weight after three weeks eating fish and fruit? (For overseas users, I must explain that in the UK the show has just passed the halfway point, and I don’t know what happens. Please don’t tell me). And how stupid must the audience be to be happily fed constant clichéd melodrama in flashback form? But that’s me, I am part of that audience, and I don’t think I’m stupid. How can I enjoy this programme?!

I tried to placate myself with the ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ idea. J.J. Abrams, co-creator of Lost, also wrote the screenplay for Armageddon (1998), and that also falls into that category. But is it, fellow bloggers, a valid category? Or is it made up by cinematic snobs who need to hide behind a veil to obscure the fact they like something they’re not supposed to?

Here’s the thoughts of one user on IMDB “While some may say this is unrealistic and gimmicky, I maintain that this is a brave, bold choice for ABC and like other bold movies and shows, if given the chance it will change the art. I can't wait for next week.” I’d say the choice was the opposite of bold. It has, and must always have had, ‘big hit’ written all over it. And if it ‘changes the art’, then god help TV and cinema. I think my trouble with this style of filmmaking (I appreciate this is a 20-odd episodic TV show, but you only need to watch one episode to understand what it does and how it works) is that I don’t know if the filmmakers are assuming we are stupid, or are assuming that we are happy to suspend our disbelief to the extent of stupidity, in order to be entertained. And I was entertained. I just wasn’t proud of myself.

16/10/2005

Daniel Craig is new Bond... reaction

With all the rumours flying about in regards to everyone from Clive Owen to Dougray Scott being lined up as the next 007, it was something of a surprise when the far more low profile Daniel Craig was confirmed as the successor to Pierce Brosnan for next year's "Casino Royale". Hard to say what Craig will be like in the role - but Chester born actor is certainly the ideal age (late thirties) to carry the franchise to a new high should he win over audiences. If successful, methinks we can expect Craig in the role of 007 for another decade at least, if not more (Brosnan and Moore played 007 well into their fifties).

However, "Casino Royale" is supposidly a prequel/ "back to basics" Bond film... and this has always proven difficult for Eon to translate into big box office. Usually, the 007 owners like to do things by the tried and tested formula of hot women/ striking locations/ widescreen photography and ball busting stunts but whenever the series has gone for a more minimal, gritty action thriller approach the commercial reaction has been lukewarm to say the least. This was what toppled Dalton's interpretation of Bond (although 1987's "The Living Daylights" is a fine, if overlong, movie whilst 1989's "Licence to Kill" is a largely underseen gem), not to mention Lazenby (ironically "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is still the best of the lot to date). Even when Moore was required to take on 007 with a grittier, nastier personality (in 1981's "For Your Eyes Only") it lasted for one film... and 1983's "Octopussy" quickly threw Moore back into the zany/ arched eyebrow spy-comedy that he obviously excels in. "For Your Eyes Only" remains one of Moore's less successful Bonds among the general public although - after "The Spy Who Loved Me" - it is surefire bet for his second best.

So what am I saying? Well, we should all be happy that the Bond franchise is making a comeback after the misstep of "Die Another Day", which is a fine fantasy romp but perhaps a bit too over the top for even 007. However, before we really begin to anticipate the dawning of a new era for the character let's not get too ahead of ourselves. Bond buffs, such as myself, are all too aware of the difficulty in bringing in changes to the character that we know and love.

If they are going with a "back to basics" Bond, here is hoping that the public embraces Craig with wider arms than they afforded to Lazenby and to Dalton.

Calum Waddell