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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Fox's Lethal Weapon

Generally small screen crime dramas are far more cerebral than their ancestors from the 1970's heyday of TV crime shows - that's not the case with Fox's Lethal Weapon which owes as much to TV's Starskey and Hutch as it does to the movie franchise from which it takes its name and central characters. That's not such a bad thing and the show offers a welcome antidote to the grim and gritty milieu which has become the norm with the genre. The likes of True Detective, the first season at least, may have offered compelling viewing with its mix of great writing and understated acting but sometimes it is nice to put your brain in neutral and watch TV for the sheer spectacle itself.

Lethal Weapon then is in no way realistic but then it doesn't intend to be and certainly doesn't need to be. With a title like Lethal Weapon viewers are not expecting another True Detective but rather a return to the buddy/buddy genre and all the elaborate explosions, car chases and fist fights that entails. And on this score the Lethal Weapon series certainly delivers.

So far I've seen three episodes of the first season and after a piss poor pilot episode which basically revamped the plot of the first movie but with far less class, the show looks like it is finding its feet. Of course it is haunted by the ghosts of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, not to mention Joe Pesci, but when you get over the fact that this is a new Lethal Weapon with new lead actors then the show starts to make some kind of sense.

The jury is still out on this one and although the show is ridiculous I did enjoy the second episode far more than the pilot and the third episode was pretty solid, if a little daft. There's a genuine chemistry between the two leads which if allowed to develop may even match that displayed by Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, and the secondary cast provide solid support to the mismatched cops.

How do I rate this show then? Well, it's a little early to say but I will be sticking with it for a few more episodes yet.

NEWS - LETHAL WEAPON marked FOX’s highest fall premiere in two years, with a 3.2/12 Live + 7 rating among Adults 18-49 and 12.4 million viewers across all platforms to date, propelling FOX Wednesday to be premiere week’s highest-rated night of entertainment programming.  It is the No. 3 new drama this season (tied with “Bull”), with a 3.0/11 in Live + 7 among Adults 18-49 and the average multi-platform audience for the show is 11.5 million viewers in Live + 7.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Get ready

Gilfach was a quiet Welsh village set deep within the picturesque valleys – Was, being the operative word since the peacefulness is shattered by a spate of killer clowns and a full scale terrorist hunt.
John Smith is an everyday sort of man with everyday concerns. He spends his time working at the local supermarket, walking his dog and arguing with his domineering wife, Rose.

Soon however John Smith through a series of events completely beyond his control finds himself with the tag of Britain’s most wanted.

John Smith is the reluctant terrorist.

Oscar, BAFTA and now we have the Stiffie

The Erotic Review have announced that they are to introduce an award for writing good sex in fiction. The publishers state that they want to remove the seediness associated with erotic writing and the counter the infamous Bad Sex Award which is held each year by The Literary Review.

Lisa Moylett, publisher, told The Times newspaper: “We are throwing down the gauntlet. No more ‘bad sex’ writing. That is not something we should be celebrating.” The publisher was recently joined by Mariella Frostrup, editor of the recently released Desire: 100 of Literature’s Sexiest Stories,at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival and backed this point up.

Speaking of the award, Toby Lichtig recently wrote in, The Guardian Newspaper - 'In a sense, my question is: what is good sex in fiction as opposed to mere pornography? (Which also leads me to ask: does good fiction suddenly stop becoming good if it's arousing?) I suppose one problem is that sex is so often idealised in books, as it is in films. Earth-moving, transcendental, simultaneously-orgasmic sex is far more common in the history of the world's storytelling than is an awkward, exhausted and querulous quickie between setting the alarm and getting up to calm the baby. But good bad sex (the embarrassment, the mutual misunderstanding) should be honoured in fiction no more nor less than the real fireworks.'

Personally I take all of the points listed above, and I suppose an award for good sex writing is no different to awards for writing in other genres, The Daggers, for instance given for good crime writing but there will always be an element of sniggering where sex is involved. Hey, it's the British way and the award is not really going to be called A STIFFIE you know. Though, I can't help thinking that maybe it should.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Man Flu

It is with great sadness that I report I am suffering from Man Flu   

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

In anticipation of the forthcoming re-make of the Magnificent Seven, the Tainted Archive rolls out reviews of the original movie, its sequels and the TV series.

"A pallid, pretentious and over-long reflection of the Japanese original.' New York Times

Given it's iconic status in the western moviescape, it may come as a surprise to hear that John Sturges' 1960 movie, The Magnificent Seven was largely a box office disappointment - during the year of its original release it placed well behind movies such as the Elvis Presley vehicle, G I Blues. But when the film was released in Europe it became a smash hit, being particularly popular in the UK and Germany.

Of course over the years the movie has gained its well deserved classic status, (in fact it remains the second most  played movie on American television) and watching the movie today it feel like what it is - a genuine screen classic which regularly features in top ten lists of the best western movies ever. Opening with Elmer Bernstein's rousing theme tune - a song that could be argued to be THE WESTERN THEME rather than just another western theme. It's a really exciting, rousing piece that once heard can never be forgotten. So iconic did it become that it was used in television adverts for Malboro Cigarettes and also for comedic effect in the James Bond movie, Moonraker.

The film starts proper with Calvera (Eli Wallach) and his bandit army riding into a small Mexican village and pushing the residents about. Eventually the residents decide to fight back but rather than buying guns and fighting themselves they hire Chris (Yul Brynner) to protect them. Soon six other gunmen join Brynner's team and we have the magnificent seven.

The film doesn't really put a foot wrong in the way it is structured - the first part of the film deals with the seven coming together. Next they arrive at the Mexican village and there are some great character moments here, but ironically it is Hortz Buckholz (the actor most forgotten by participants in pub quizzes when asked to name the seven actors) who shines the brightest. He has some great moments, not less his discovery of the women the villagers have hidden from the American gunmen. Steve McQueen also stands out as does James Coburn - between them these two give us the two coolest most laid back characters in the entire movie. The middle section of the film sees the seven training up the villagers and they initially drive off Calvera (Wallach) and his men but the film builds up the tension for the return of Calvera and the final climatic shoot-out.

The real star of the movie though is the lean script - the dialogue is particularly good with few words wasted and virtually every line carries the story forward in some way. Though of course the action scenes, particularly the gunfights are excellently blocked and acted out.

'The old man was right, only the farmers won. We lost.' Chris' (Brynner's) final line as he and McQueen
 ride off into the sunset.

A western then that truly is magnificent.