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Productive evenings are for losers

I’m not exactly ill but not exactly well, so found myself staying in last night and watching Minority Report, which is slightly better when the dialogue isn’t bouncing around an auditorium and you can actually hear the damn stuff, but repeat viewing confirms my original vague feeling that Spielberg went off to do another project before post-production was finished and said to some gofer, “Right, the end should pretty much take care of itself. Big reveal, confrontation with bad guy, good guy wins, happy ever after. Ten minutes tops. See you at the premiere.” Maybe the kid was too inexperienced or he was trying to milk his part; either way the film’s at least half an hour too long at the end. And then the end itself! Shite! and a big part of the reason loads of people originally came wandering out of the film going “Mneh”. There’s some good stuff in there (as well as, okay, a lot of ordinary stuff), but my God, you’ve forgotten all about it by the time the credits start to roll.

Enjoyed on your own sofa, though, the film perks up considerably, especially in comparison with The Omen II which was on around the same time, and whose most unsettling feature isn’t so much the serial snuff porn as the orgy of error messages generated by its own internal logic. Apparently no-one can stop the Antichrist and all his minions because it’s all predetermined, but in that case there’s no point in the Antichrist and all his minions bothering in the first place, since Revelations clearly states that in the end they all get wiped out for their trouble; they wind up, in chiller’s phrase, “sundered at the atomic level”. On the other hand, if (as happens in the third film) (SPOILER!) it proves possible to stop the Antichrist and all his minions and apparently save the world, that means that ultimately the “good guys” have actually succeeded in thwarting Judgment Day. It’s not the Devil they've beaten, it’s God. Without all the tribulation stuff, where’s the final battle where Jesus wins the day? Where’s the closure? Christianity’s knackered if the Beast goes down in the first round—it would be like halting the crucifixion. “It’s all right, lads, I’ve had a word, it’s all off. Down you come, mate. You’ve got a long and fulfilling life as an apocalyptic prophet stretching ahead of you now. Now you’ll get to see how many of your predictions will come true. Ooh, nasty, you want to get that seen to.”

Ultimately the film is as circular and pointless as the profusion of bleak, rip-off phone-in “quizzes” that grow like slime mould among the cracks in the schedules, which I will inevitably find myself sat incredulously in front of at some point tonight. They're usually just vacuous and upsetting, but can on occasion be entrancing. I have a recording from a couple of weeks ago of the last half hour of Cash Call, around three in the morning. No calls have been put through for quite some time and the presenter is starting to lose the plot. “Is anyone actually watching me right now, or am I just sitting here talking to myself...?” was the line that initially caught my attention as I flipped past. It’s not long before her monologues start to sound as if she has been trapped in a pothole for three weeks with only the sound of her own voice to sustain her. “They made a doll... Doll. Dull? Doll. I’m not very good at pronouncing ‘l’s, ‘cos I grew up in Redhill... ‘Ell’. Doll. When I say ‘doll’... How d’you say ‘doll’? Doll. A doll. Red lolly, yellow lolly, red lolly, yellow lolly... Sara, get a grip.” Also: “When I said ‘memory like a sieve’, I just had a vision of someone chopping my head off and holding it in a sieve and literally... sieving my... brain.”

There are moments when the producer has clearly had a sharp word in her ear and she tries to reactivate the smiley and bubbly manner that presumably got her through the audition in the first place, but by this point she really doesn’t have the will to go on. “I don’t think I’ll be watching this show back... I hope no-one I know is watching this.” By the time her shift is over and they fade her out, she has reached the wide-eyed manic laugh stage. “Why can’t I be professional? Why can’t I just switch it on...?” She was back the following week, smiley and bubbly. If I’m still up, I’ll tune in tonight at about three to see what kind of state she’s in—my money’s on this:


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2006 08:05 am (UTC)
Hey H, I'm actually writing a piece about these quizzes at the moment. Can I steal Sara's quote? It's stunning.
Oct. 22nd, 2006 12:51 pm (UTC)
Of course!
Oct. 22nd, 2006 08:28 am (UTC)
Hey, you quoted me! I feel famous.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 11:24 am (UTC)
Given that your flist dwarfs mine, I felt far more famous when you mentioned the EVA thing...
Oct. 23rd, 2006 11:33 am (UTC)
That's because I'm a flist whore, whereas you are discerning and exclusive.

That thing still rawks, by the way. I had it on again this weekend, while attempting to permanently mutilate myself with a Black & Decker. Tip: never use a drill with a two-foot bit AND listen to your MP3 player with a very long earphone cable at the same time.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
I'm very glad you like it. Since you seem to have heard it so often, you might like to know that the "Ooh!"s that punctuate the Missy Elliott bit are from Billie Jean, while the "Ha!" chords during the same bit are from Boogie Wonderland.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 11:57 am (UTC)
Oh, that's cool ... I thought the "Oohs" during the Missy E bit were from either Beyonce or a Destiny's Child track because there's a sexy little hiccuping sound in there I've definitely heard on a DC track. But of course now you've identified them it all makes sense.

You are MIGHTY. I bow at you.
Oct. 22nd, 2006 09:34 am (UTC)
"There’s some good stuff in there (as well as, okay, a lot of ordinary stuff), but my God, you’ve forgotten all about it by the time the credits start to roll."

Perhaps it's an exceptional film if you've the attention span for it?
Oct. 22nd, 2006 11:53 am (UTC)
If people don't have an attention span of over two hours then there is something wrong with them.
Oct. 22nd, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)
It's not that you forget because it was so long ago; it's because over that last half hour or so you feel yourself growing sullen and resentful as time starts to drag, as if in a chase dream, and you find essential plot points repeated to you very slowly and carefully as if you were a sickly child, and then the sheer banality of the "And they lived happily ever after in a log cabin" send-off lamps you on the bridge of your nose and you just don't care any more. Which, for me, overshadowed the good stuff first time round.

In fact, I think the work experience guy wrote the last half hour as well.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 10:25 am (UTC)
And you expected somthing different from a Hollywood movie?
Oct. 22nd, 2006 11:53 am (UTC)
I've been asleep.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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