Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Summer Lovin’

(500) Days Of Summer is a romantic comedy distinguished by quirky casting, genre-defying cultural references and a deft gender reversal (so here it's the man – or rather manchild – who burbles madly about meeting ‘The One’ and generally acts like a relationship-seeking missile). Unfortunately, it’s not as good as I’ve just made it sound. It is, however, a film that’s pretty much composed of self-conscious soundbites (or whatever you call their cinematic equivalent), so here’s a few more to sum it up:

A rom-com for the iPod generation.

A 90-minute Vodafone commercial.

An emotional mixtape charting the highs and lows of indie-love.

A Brief Encounter for the MySpace/facebook/whatever age.

Personally, I groaned at its clumsy, borderline-sacrilegious references to The Smiths, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Belle & Sebastian. It actually feels like a generic rom-con dressed in vintage by a purposefully edgy stylist who then shoe-horned some cool music into it while laughing like a maniac. That said, I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s drunken karaoke version of The Pixies’ ‘Here Comes Your Man’ was better than the original...

Ultimately, the film is an enjoyable, fairly okay piece of work, but it does feel like something constructed by a committee briefed to take the indie-by-numbers formula and clamp it to a rom-com. No surprises, then, that it comes from Fox Searchlight, who previously gave us Juno. Zooey Deschanel is perfectly cast as the titular Summer – a kind of anti-ingenue – but the otherwise likeable Gordon-Levitt just seems too much of a junior yuppie to be truly convincing as alleged indie-boy Tom. The fact that he never goes to any gigs is a little suspicious, but when he ends up hitting on an orange-hued Jessica Alba-type (not-so-hilariously named Autumn) I wanted to shout 'Imposter!'...

(500) Days Of Summer is released in the UK on 4 September 2009


Those resourceful souls at https://shootingpeople.org have got hold of NASA’s list of the videos available for the astronauts on board the International Space Station (unless it’s a spoof – needless to say I haven’t checked properly). Naturally, the list has much blackly comic potential, not least with such fate-tempting titles as:

2010: The Year We Make Contact
Black Hawk Down
Cast Away
Gone With the Wind
Die Hard With A Vengeance
Legends of the Fall
Man on Fire
Mission Impossible III
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Something’s Gotta Give
Star Wars I-VI
The Day The Earth Stood Still

Interestingly, Armageddon features a Russian astronaut who’s gone crazy after spending months alone on a space station. It’s probably just as well that the library doesn’t contain the all-time-greatest ‘going-mad-on-a-space-station’ film, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris or such guaranteed paranoia-inducers as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien, although they do have a copy of Ron Howard’s more redemptive Apollo 13. The Space Station’s library of books is pretty interesting as well – loads of science fiction, with Isaac Asimov ranking as most popular author. Neatly inverting the space theme, however, they also have a copy of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Mondo Porno

The bidding war for the Leighton Meester sex tape has allegedly reached the $1 million mark. Ironically, a couple of years ago Leighton appeared in the James Woods TV series Shark – in an episode entitled ‘Porn Free’.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Man Of The Momus

They say that con artists favour an ‘educated Scottish’ accent, and listening to Momus - the artist formerly known as Nick Currie - it’s easy to see why. I always had him pegged as a part-time musician and full-time enigma, but he recently turned up on Cherry Red TV to reveal himself as a thoroughly marvellous raconteur. Filmed in an hour-long conversation with Cherry Red supremo Iain McNay, Momus is witty, perceptive and full of understated charm. He shares illuminating memories of music industry mavericks like Mike Alway and Alan McGee, tells the stories behind some of his more famous songs like ‘The Homosexual’ and ‘The Hairstyle of the Devil’, and reveals why his 1988 album had to be renamed ‘Tender Pervert’. Great accent too.