So Thursday morning was breakfast with the orchidaceous Kay in Girvan’s, and this is the sort of episode that makes me think briefly that I may be the greatest man ever to walk the face of the earth to have such stuff happen to me. I may have mentioned Kay’s effortless glamour and giant-felling intellect before, but it never hurts to give it another walk round the block. She is one of the good things in the world like crème brulee and doctor jokes and jazz and coffee and black and white films with subtitles.
Only problem is she does this infinite parenthesis thing. You’ll be just getting into a good conversation about something with her when she opens up a sub-conversation about something more interesting, and then a sub-conversation in that and so on and so on until you force her back up the levels.
I have taken to drawing a map of the conversational flow just so I can be sure we have closed all the brackets by the time we finish, generally two hours after we’ve started.
Then a research to trip to HMV where I bumped into Record Shop Andy.
There is a silly trend on Facebook currently of replacing your profile with a picture of your celebrity doppelganger. The best I could come up with was Professor Yaffle the heroic sceptic from Bagpuss, though it has been cruelly suggested that the fat, furry, credulous, narcoleptic title character might have been a better choice. Andy and Barbara have chosen as their doppelgangers Harry Potter and Buttercup from The Powerpuff Girls. This describes them better than mere words ever could.
If you would like Andy in his own words please check out his blog.
Andy tried unsuccessfully to divert me from some of my more foolish purchases, but this may have been a complicated form of reverse retail psychology to make sure I did buy them. I’m two years away from working in a shop. It’s all very confusing to me now.
Out I stumbled anyway with Dario Argento’s ridiculous, hysterical operatic seventies horror movie Suspiria on Blu-ray, ooooh my expectations are high for this one. I also managed to buy two Ridley Scott films on Blu-ray, and herein possibly lies my error.
I think Ridley Scott is a pretty ropey director. The faults of his films are consistent and I think the blame is wholly his. They tend to be overlong to a tedious degree and whilst visually rich they tend to be impoverished as far as authentic emotions and human experience go. Scott’s early work included the legendary Hovis bread advert of the seventies, a golden evocation of an earlier pastoral era designed to shift drab, loveless, mass-produced fluff-food. I don’t think he ever really moved on from that.
The two I bought are Gladiator and American Gangster. Never seen American Gangster, though I’m assured it’s good. Gladiator I saw in 2000 when it came out, and whilst I enjoyed it at the time I have never felt compelled to revisit it. My feeling is that it might not work second time around. We’ll soon find out.
There are strong films in Scott’s oeuvre, Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down and Kingdom Of Heaven spring to mind. But how many misfires are there? Someone To Watch Over Me, Black Rain, GI Jane, White Squall, 1492: The Conquest Of Paradise, Legend, A Good Year. Do any of these ever feature on anyone’s top ten movie lists?
There are two Ridley Scott films though which permanently stop me writing the guy off. Alien and Blade Runner. Any given day of the week these might feature in my own top ten.
Alien obsessed me when it came out. I accept that it’s little more than a haunted house in space film, or Ten Little Indians given a lick of sci-fi paint, but there’s something archetypal about it. I love the way that each of the three sequels has followed a completely different style as well, rather than glumly retread the original.
I own the soundtrack on vinyl and as a fourteen year old I could name the seven members of the Nostromo’s crew the way I would subsequently be able to name the actors in the Magnificent Seven, Snow White’s seven dwarfs or the seven dwarfs from Time Bandits (six once you take into account the fact that “Horseflesh is dead”). Even now I have a Nostromo crew member t-shirt that I wear on special occasions.
Blade Runner can be quite a divisive film. For instance check out my wonderful and indefatigable mate Dave’s movie blog for a heterodox view.
Maybe you had to be there at the time, but I’ve never lost that initial thrill I got from the opening shot of the cityscape. Harrison Ford looks like he’s acting terribly throughout, but at the time it looked amazing to an audience who only knew him as Han or Indy.
I don’t think the story of Blade Runner makes any sense at all. How many replicants are there? Five or six. Is Deckard one of them? Um, probably. And why does everyone stay in the dank, rotting city if all that lush countryside is a short drive away?
It doesn’t matter. It’s an audiovisual experience that I can surrender to in a way that is not true of most films.