Monday 1 March 2010

Flavours of the Month: February 2010...

Similar to January, February is a month that can kinda just slip away, nevertheless it's time for another Flavours of the Month.

Kicking off in grand style, but in a thoughtful and atmospheric way (some might say depressing, but whatever), with having the film adaptation of The Road stuck firmly in my head, accompanied by the utterly spiffing soundtrack composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (who also composed the effing amazing score for The Assassination of Jesse James).

There's been a fair few DVD bargains this month too, what with the Hostel 1 & 2 box set, the jam-packed 4-disc Titanic DVD, as well as the 2-disc 'Ultimate Action Edition' of Die Hard 4.0, as well as Cannibal Apocalypse, The Wrestler and Crank 2.

I've also been getting to know the ruddy great Adventureland all over again as it was finally released in the UK this month, and it's just as charming and involving as it always was.

The soundtrack to February has mostly been M83's "Saturdays = Youth", the new Rob Zombie CD "Hellbilly Deluxe 2" (which I really dig) and the latest album from HIM called "Screamworks" (which is a return to form after the fairly standard "Venus Doom" back in 2007).

Life on Mars USA came to a close on FX. It has been a show that I've ended up quite enjoying, even though the original British show is naturally superior, but aye, I really did quite enjoy it. The ending was a bit iffy ... kind of like having its cake and eating it too, and then some. Still, at least they didn't just do the same ending as the UK version, so that's something.

I've been enjoying some nostalgic VHS viewing too, having replaced the videotapes propping up the DVDs on the top shelf in my bedroom with steel book ends ... as a result I found some old videos from my youth, a couple have gone aside for charity bags, and the other two are Volumes 1 and 2 of Deputy Dawg, a great cartoon that was made between 1959 and 1972. I tell you what, you certainly wouldn't have a canine lawman forcefully recruiting children (Muskie and Vince) at gun point to work for him in a cartoon these days, ha!

Further to my tour round some old videotapes in my collection, I dug out my old Vipco release copy of Lucio Fulci's notoriously sleazy (and quite misogynistic) New York Ripper. It's a real classic (misogyny aside) of the video nasties era, of Italian grindhouse cinema, but bloody hell this release is terrible - it's the second worse Pan & Scan job I've ever seen. The opening titles play out in the original 2.35:1 ratio, before switching to 4:3 ... and there's sod all panning going on, so characters are constantly talking to people out-of-frame, or getting half-cut-out themselves, or details (such as the red VW on the ferry) not moving off are completely missing from the shot.

What's the worst Pan & Scan job I've ever seen, you ask - a Channel 5 showing of Short Circuit, a film which was also originally shot in 2.35:1 - but this time there's no shortage of panning. The frame swished left and right in a desperate panic to get all the characters and details in, which also doing a piss-poor job of scanning, so that the image is not only horribly degraded, but flickering at the same time. A truly dreadful example of Pan & Scan, which was itself a stupid idea invented for stupid people incapable of understanding Original Aspect Ratio (OAR).

I've also been doing a lot of planning on my next script - although I'm still seeking a good title for it - but I'm getting very close to being able to start the writing process on that one.

Finally the month was capped-off by a viewing of the actually quite good The Crazies (2010) - one of the few remakes that have actually been worthwhile, and I was inspired to dig out The Crazies (1973) from my collection and give it yet another viewing.

(I will blog soon about the Borderlines Film Festival screening of Gaia & Gensis on Saturday 27th February.)

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