Monday, 6 April 2009

Robots, Dr No, The Notorious Landlady,

The sun shone brightly for most of Sunday, but is was chilly first thing and then again soon into the evening. I had intended to get out earlier but it was mid afternoon when I did, before shops closed at four and made the mistake of buying from the supermarket before attempting to walk across the town centre to see if Wilkinson had any more of the Black folders and a slim credit card holder.

People were eating ice creams again from Minchella’s and a touring van with familiar chimes was on the hill as I returned home. I had been out to stretch my legs and for milk, taking the opportunity to buy two small fruit salads. I had not said no. As I should, to a packs of six hot cross buns supporting Azda in the war with Tesco. The differential had been two packs for 80p to £1.20 several weeks ago whereas now it was 27 pence against 30 pence for six. It had otherwise been a good food day with cereal in the morning, Roast chicken for lunch with Roast potatoes followed by half a pack of grapes, smoked salmon bits on toasts for tea, the last tea until next weekend, smoked mackerel salad for the evening meal with a fruit salad, coffee and the bun, and then soup at around 1 am but without the roll. I have settled my starter weight reduction again at 17.4 although it could be 5 and I must get the weight under seventeen stone before May is out.

“A fusion of Jazz and Punk: Junk”,- is the best line in Robots, the 2005 CGI film which has the voices of Ewan McGreggor as the main character, a makeshift robot of various spare parts with the ambition to join Bigweld the master inventor and owner of Bigweld Industries. When he gets to visit the city and Bigweld, Ewan finds that the great man has left in charge the son, played by Greg Kinnear, of a woman who makes her money by recycling old robots into fashionable new bodies and who stops the manufacture of spare parts for old models to make everyone buy the new bodyworks. The film is therefore a plea for individuality, originality and eccentricity against uniformity and global corporate universality although the basic plot is suitable for five to seven year olds, with some robot farting included.

McGreggor makes friends with a group of anarchist misfits led by Robin Williams and his sister. Halle Berry plays a beautiful Bigweld executive who helps Ewan rescue Bigweld and defeat the mother, I cannot work out if she or the landlady has the voice over of Jim Broadbent, the mother lands in the recycling furnace and among other voices, none of which I spotted while watching, are said to be James Earl Jones and Chris Evans, Chris Moyle and Terry Wogan and the American Idol trio of Ryan Seacrest, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson as three watches.

McGregor becomes a community hero because through his inventiveness he is able to repair the failing robots from scrap and eventually manages to persuade Bigweld to come out of retirement and reclaim his business deposing the villainous son and dastardly business woman mother The film is great fun with a genuinely funny clever script and good music but as Hercule Poirot would say “Hastings, the grey cells of children are not stretched.“

A similar complaint could be directed at the 1952 comedy, The Notorious Landlady. Jack Lemon is a low level US diplomat who comes to work at the London Embassy and takes rooms in a Mayfair residence where the police are stalking the owner believing that she has killed her husband. It is never clear why they suspect her of murder and then hid the body rather than he has disappeared. The policeman in charge of the investigation is played by Lionel Jeffries. The woman under suspicion is played by Kim Novaks and his senior officer at the Embassy is played by Fred Astaire.

The highlight of the story is when the couple are off to Cornwall to find a neighbour who can prove innocence of a murder and an explanation of what has been happening and they ask the London station ticket office how far a hotel is from the destination station and the clerk not only knows the answer but adds its is used for elderly persons. Thus England iis reduced to a village. Ho, Go, hee!

There is also a shot of Battersea power station before it became a shell. The best quips are given to Lionel and Fred but are several notches below those of Robots,, but I suppose some of the 1962 audience found the preposterous plot amusing .
A third rubbishy film although this time produced at great expense is the 1 millionth showing of Dr No a Sean Connery Bond, his first also made 1962 and has the famous coming out of the sea, shell collecting Ursula Andress. The film was made for under $1 million but grossed over $100 million which demonstrates how much we adore rubbish which involves beautiful women, synthetic killings and cinematic tricks.

The film begins with a great opening sequence and this is the saving grace of all Bond films which then go down hill and includes a Chemin De fer game at a London Casino ( Aspinall’s in disguise) where Bond meets his first standard woman, beautiful and sophisticated, rich carefree gamblers and racing driving being the two great seductables in general, but add the ingredients of a killer spook and they give themselves at the blink of eye lid

Ursula Andress is more chaste and only yields at the familiar ending in gratitude for her life while the beautiful oriental secretary to the British High Commissioner in Jamaica and who is in the pay of Dr No is bedded before being handed over to the authorities for being a spy. Nice touch that James

Dr No is part of SPECTRE the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence Terrorism Revenge and Extortion and the man behind sabotaging Cape Canaveral rocket launches which involves nuclear energy which Bonds successfully overheats blowing up the Island thus contaminating the whole of the West Indies and central America, a fact which cinema goers, DVD and TV watchers are supposed to overlook and the film has an endless supply of expendable security guards and the best assassins money can buy but the entire system falls to pieces immediately Mr Bond comes within view. Again the film is aimed at five year old men.

I missed the first part of the Andrew Marr Show which had interviews with the Chancellor and Kenneth Clark (where was George Osborn?) mulling over the G20 meeting and the forthcoming budget. Everyone is saying we are not going to like the budget where taxes are expected go up and public expenditure cut. Sorry that must surely be the next Tory budget? I do not think Gordon will accept such an approach especially if he accepts he will lose the next election so he may as well saddle the Tories with a nightmare financial situation so the public will quickly clamour to bring back Gordon.

The early start was to accommodate the Malaysian Grand Prix which was reduced to about half the intended rain by a tropical to. The races are run late afternoon to accommodate European Time but this coincides with the daily cloud bursts and the rapid fall of darkness. The race therefore had to be stopped and for the second time in succession Jensen Button won without racing the full length of laps, but this time although in pole position he started badly and then manoeuvred himself into the lead before the course became a lake. He therefore was awarded only half points and now leads the championship 15 points to 10. The disgraced current champion appeared in good spirits and happy with his half a point, but whether he and his team keep this will only be disclosed next moth when the international federation determine the punishment for deliberate cheating. They should be kicked out of the competition for a season or two but big money and the potential loss of jobs will prevent this happening and after all what they did is trivial compared to that of the bankers and speculation investors. The Labour Government will continue to protect them while making sympathetic noises to quell public anger.

Lewis reverted to its conventional formula among the Oxford elite but was saved by holding a 21st birthday party at Blenheim Palace. I got as far as a picnic in the grounds with an end of Ruskin celebration which also included punting on the river to mark our transition from revolutionary reds and socialists to embryonic intellectuals and non conformists. The episode redeemed itself by Lewis’s assistant saying goodbye to his emancipated female copper friend who gets promotion to inspector and a job at Scotland Yard before him. The theme was redemption and the negativity of guilt. Jenny Seagrove plays the curator of the local art gallery.

I watched a Taggart rerun celebrating twenty five years of murder and mayhem across the border but these programmes always have credibility where as the dark side of Oxford college life now makes one think back to the days when one wanted to turn university colleges into hostels for the homeless. Now I believe Oxford and Cambridge should become international post graduate research institutions only and that everyone should get their first degrees elsewhere.

It was a disastro us day for game playing with first crashing on chess after a run of sixty games and then worse still ending a run of 810 winning games of free cell by a mistake. Yuk.

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