Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay (review)

I need to make it clear from the start that I :


(a) Love and adore this band more than I can say. 


When I first saw the clip for Yellow years ago (in 2000, to be exact) on a 1/2 hour CNN world music round up show when Coldplay had just won their first Mercury Prize, I was besotted immediately. I scoured every last record store I could find for a copy of Parachutes, finally locating one in of all places David Jones Miranda (no one was more surprised than me, frankly), and I listened to it obsessively, my initial attraction turning into deep, enduring love. My fervour for the band has not dimmed one bit in the intervening time.


(b) They are one of the few bands that manages to consistently turn out great music that is inspired, soulful and just plain beautiful (although X & Y tested my faith a little in that regard, being a tad too bombastic at times after the sublimely clever, Rush of Blood…), all underpinned by a solid commitment to values that matter like Fair Trade, which they take every opportunity to espouse…

So with all that in mind, please understand where I am coming from when I say I am not at all excited by Mylo Xyloto. Its not that its a bad album – far from it, and there are many bands that would kill for it to be part of their discography. Its simply that while some of the songs are excellent – Paradise has grown on me, I quite like Rihanna and Chris Martin’s collaboration, Princess of China, and Major Minus is catchy in that insistent way that makes you want to listen to it again and again.


And therein lies the problem with this album for me. None of the songs really compel me to rush back to listen again and again till my ears bleed with joy (it happens), and my ear worm explodes from choosing which song to mercilessly replay over and over in the grooves of my brain (especially when swimming and iTunes is not available). I do like it, but I don’t love it, and that’s disappointing.


Having said all that, I will be as front and centre as I can manage come their next tour through Australia, I will continue to support Chris and the gang as wholeheartedly as I ever have, and I will even advise people to buy Mylo Xyloto if they want a great album to wash away the sonic stains from music made by lesser mortals.


I just won’t be humming any of the tunes quite as often as I would like to.

Midnight in Paris (review)

Woody Allen is back in fine form.
All the whimsy, imagination, and verbal cleverness we have come to expect from this gifted movie maker are all on show here, in a movie that looks as beautiful as it sounds.

It begins with a gloriously sublime montage of images of Paris, in the sunshine and the rain, all of which evoke the classic view of romantic Paris, before centring on Gil (Owen Wilson), an aspiring writer (and disillusioned screenwriting ‘hack’) who is in the city with his fiancée, the rather high maintenance, Inez. It is becomes very clear very quickly that Gil and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are not even in the same bookstore, let alone on the same page, but they persist in pursuing the illusion of the perfect relationship even when it is manifestly clear that nothing of the kind exists.

Gil, particularly, is convinced that life could be better if he could stay in Paris and write, a notion dismissed by Inez (‘You’re in love with a fantasy’), and her right wing upper middle class parents, Jim (Kurt Fuller) and Helen (Mimi Kennedy) without any thought. It is enough for them to be in a safe, predictable career, and living the ‘right’ kind of life, and little regard is given for the idea that life should have meaning or purpose. Gil, though, cannot surrender the sense that he is missing something profound, and furthermore is sure that he would be happier, not just in Paris, but Paris of the 1920s.

One night, while out walking he is collected by a car that transports him away from the present day and into his self-described golden age, where he must decide if it is really as good as he had believed. His time there leads him on a journey of self-discovery that culminates in decisions that fundamentally alter the course of his life, but not necessarily in the way he imagined.

This movie is a sheer delight. From its explorations of what makes us truly happy, and the push-and-pull between our current reality, and our idealised reality, to the witty wordplay, and sparkling characterisations, this magic piece of cinema dares to both look beautiful and say something worthwhile, and underlines that Woody Allen still has much to say, and we should be watching and listening.

Metropolis – Friday 28 October 2011 @ Sydney Opera House


Metropolis is the ultimate detective story.

Made in 1927 by the much lauded Fritz Lang, and only shown in its full length form for three months before being withdrawn in favour of a much shortened version, this movie, seen as the antecedent, both visually and for its character archetypes, for much of the science fiction cinema that followed including 2001 – A Space Odyssey (1968) and The Fifth Element (1997), was thought lost for much of the Twentieth Century, its artistic legacy gone forever. That was until the assembling in 2001 from film archives in cities as diverse as New York, London, Moscow and Canberra of much of its footage of a version of the film by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau Foundation which restored much of the film back to its former glory. Even so, the film was still missing about 25 minutes of its former running time, and so the restoration filled in the missing pieces with film stills, and plot synopses inserted in where the lost footage should have been, 

Then in 2008, an astonishing discovery was made in Buenos Aires of the almost complete longer version of the film, which, while damaged in its transition to the 16mm format many years earlier, made it possible to restore the film to as close as we’re ever likely to get to its original form. Added to this joyous discovery was the fact that the original score by Gottfried Huppertz, in all its inspiring majesty, allowed the team to accurately piece the film together using the cues in the score along with excerpts from Huppertz’s journal.

The city in all it’s special effects glory

Robotic Maria tempting and seducing the upper city’s decadent rich

The heroine, Maria with Freder, son of the ruler of Metropolis, who has just realised how much it costs other less fortunate people for him and his fellow pampered citizens to live their lives of carefree luxury


What we have now is a glorious experience – the reasonably complete version of the film, which details the struggles between the Haves (led by Jon Fredersen, played by Alfred Abel) who rule over the almost Utopian beauty of the upper city, and the Have Nots, who’s greatest champion is the feisty idealistic Maria (Brigitte Helm) who attracts the attention of the ruler’s son, Freder, who does everything he can to right the rampant injustices that underpin the lifestyle he enjoys. It is a story that on the surface looks to be simply about class warfare, and capitalism vs socialism. But if you look more closely, you realise that the vision of the screenwriter (and wife of Fritz Lang), Thea von Harbou, goes much deeper than this – mired in the decay and sense of futility of post World War 1 Weimar Germany (and a scant six years before Hitler’s rise to power in 1933), she seeks to explore the very nature of humanity, of the what drives people to do what they do, and the competing beliefs that compete for peoples’ attention when a society is in upheaval. With its themes of apocalypse, societal decay, and eventual triumph of the common good, the movie moves, often in a convoluted narrative fashion, to explore how a society can address the evils within itself, and the flawed nature of the people who make it up, and hopefully come out the other side, richer, and far more equitable and caring.

Coupled with the richness and power of Huppertz’s score, and the ground breaking visual imagery and special effects that was light years of it’s contemporaries, watching this movie is a privilege as your mind and soul, and yes, even your heart (a key recurring theme in the movie, where the heart is seen as the link between the mind and the hands of the Haves and Have Nots respectively) are engaged in a cinematic experience that goes back to an era where cinema actually said something worthwhile. 

It is a joy that the movie is back to enthral the world, after a detective hunt, worthy of a film all its own,  brought it back to stunning life, leaving us all the richer for it.

Imogen Heap – Riding the Future Sonic Wave

These four songs, all sublimely gorgeous and suffused with the intricate, ethereal melodies, and vocalisations that Imogen does better than anyone I listen to, are part of a bold new attempt by this artist, and others, to re-invent the music creation and distribution model in the wake of the seismic changes being wrought by the internet.


Imogen, in a creatively risky, but so far rewarding move, is writing these songs in conjunction with her fans who are asked to contribute sounds, images, and words, which Imogen then works into the songs she creates. Not only does it open up her creative process to new and interesting (and probably from some quarters, distinctly odd) influences, but it gives her fans a stake in, and interest in, what she creates, a sense that these songs, while in reality an outpouring of Imogen’s prodigious talent, are something they have helped create. It is a win-win all around – Imogen gets to create her music, and the visual media that goes with it, while her fans have far more interaction with their favourite artist than ever before, and get the songs one by one rather than having to wait for the album to be released in one whole 2 or 3 years down the track.


Its definitely the way of the future, and I can’t wait to see what else this artist/fan collaboration produces, and I must make sure I become an active participant in this so I too can say I had a small hand in the next song that emerges from this amazing artist and her boundary pushing.

Twirligig – Jonti

Listening to Jonti’s album on the way home on the train, and it’s as wonderfully quirky, rich and fun as I’d been led to believe. It honestly does feel like you’ve wondered into a warm happy place where the music charms, the vocals are soft and dreamy, and the samples and offbeat additions to the melody add to a delirious sense of joyful repose. It feels like a bright happy splash of colour – yes I know I have just felt a visual image but that is truly what it’s evoking in me – or wandering through a candy store where everything is bright and happy and delicious, and not in a way that makes you feel like you’re going to die from a sugar dose.


What I am particularly enjoying is the sensation of easing gently into the evening, the music’s trills, bleeps and whoops not in the least unsettling but adding to the general ambience of quiet joy. That’s not to say that the album doesn’t have presence or impact. It is certainly no piece of easily discarded New Age fluff, not even close. It’s presence lies simply in it’s rich, warm, bewitchingly original tones that are a million miles from anything else I have heard in quite a while. This is no mean feat in an age where everything feels like a retread and echoes of melodies that have gone before.

Well done Jonti. You are your own man and have made an album that is head and shoulders above so much else out there. Plus it feels like a happy sunshiny day and that makes this tired, stressed out corporate coal face worker very happy indeed.

Lost in the iPod Abyss

One of the perks of waking up at 3.45 a.m. and being unable to get back to sleep – one of the few perks I must stress since I like sleeping a LOT – is turning on Rage on the ABC (Australia) and watching a random clip play across your screen, it’s title (which on this music program always appears right at the beginning of the clip, and never again) long since gone, as you desperately tried to recall who sings what and if you own it. Maybe it’s an age thing, loathe as I am to admit it, but sometimes no matter how much you strain your desperate-to-please memory cells, you cannot remember the artist to save yourself.

In this morning’s case, I knew the song. I mean, in the very depths of my eclectic music-loving soul, pings of recognition (no, not Apple’s Pings thank you!) were going off like air raid sirens in the Blitz, welcoming the melodies I was hearing at an ungodly hour as an old friend, much loved, greatly cared for, and yet, and perhaps this is testament to the sheer avalanche of sensory input we have these days, or at least what I expose myself to in my ceaseless quest to experience every piece of pop culture I can, I could not recall the title or the artist.

The hilarious part of this, or at least it would have been if I had found it even slightly funny – OK I may have grinned a little bit at the insanity of lying awake at that time of the day trying to remember specifics about a song when what I should have been doing is trying to sleep – is that while I couldn’t do much more than recognise the melody (much like when you meet someone you know that you know but can’t remember their name so you amp up your enthusiasm level to compensate, fooling no one), I knew, KNEW, that the song was somewhere within the sprawling L.A.-ness of my iTunes collection. I have so many songs in there, edging up to 9000 at last count, that finding a particular song could take up to 782 days (that’s if I chose to eschew any other form of anything in my life, and just lay inert soaking up tunes; goodness knows how long it would take if I kept doing all the other things I do in my life), time which I simply don’t have at the moment, or I am unlikely to ever have.

So then it struck me. Do I have too much music? Can you ever have too much music? Naturally the music-listening junkie in me screams ‘NO!’ with a passion and fervency that only a true lover of anything can manage, but I suspect sometimes that maybe I do. There are only so many artists I am truly in love with, that I will drop everything for, and while you can well argue, and likely someone somewhere has, that you owe it to yourself to soak up any and all music, or any form of art really, that comes your way, there must come a point where the sheer quantity dilutes the sheer joy of the quality? I suspect so, and there at times when I wish I was a tad more discerning in my uptake of new music, but the reality is I adore finding new artists, new forms of music expression that are so original and breathtaking that all you want to do is listen to it over and over, and honestly that does mean wading through a lot of other lesser, though not bad, music to find them. It does make, however, for a urban megapolis of an iTunes collection, sprawling away into the sonically-crowded distance.

Oh, and the song I couldn’t remember. Why it’s This Must Be It by Royksopp (off their Junior album), which my stubborn memory finally coughed up somewhere around 5 a.m. (yes I know I should have been sleeping, I know)…

Husbands (web series)

Zing! Pow!
How can something so hilarously funny, with one liners I am going to have to memorise if my life is to be worth anything, be simultaneously so insightful, articulate and warm-hearted? I have no idea, but the team responsible for this gem, including the very talented Jane Espenson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly among others) have succeeded in crafting just such a clever piece of visual pop culture, and then some!
The series, with each episode roughly about two minutes long (perfect for a short commute – trust me, it lifted mine out of its usual humdrum-ness this morning – or for gainfully occupying those pesky ad breaks), stars Brad Bell (co-writer and creator) as Cheeks, an out and proud gay man of long standing who has spent many years daring America to like him, and Sean Hemeon as Brad Kelly, a more conservative pro-baseball player who only walked out of the closet a scant year before, as boyfriends of only six weeks standing, who end up getting married in Las Vegas one drunken night on the day that federal same sex marriage laws are enacted in USA. (There is also a cameo by the wonderful Nathan Fillion, geek god, and my first choice as a news reader too.)
Horrified at first at their predicament, they quickly decide that they must stay married for the sake of gaydom generally, not wanting to be the poster boys for gay divorce, a noble commitment that morphs into the dawning realisation that staying together might be the greatest adventure of them all, laudable social goals aside. The duo, who come across as totally believable in every facet of their personalities, and lives, are aided in this giant leap into the gay unknown by Cheeks’ best friend, Haley (Alessandra Torresani) who’s outrageously funny and over the top without being a parody, loves Scotch O’Clock, and commits herself in one scene of pure comic gold to being their life coach, writing her plan for the happy but nervous couple with mascara on a taco chip.
The absolutely inspired one liners aside, what sets this wonderful series up on a pedestal all of its very own, is the way it explores what it means to be a gay man in a decidedly straight world, in a way that doesn’t seem patronising or contrived in any way (no mean feat given how easy it is to portray gay characters in any show as vapid, fluffy balls of glittery silliness with no real humanity to speak of), which is accomplished primarily by focusing on the fact that here are two people, in a situation neither expected, grappling with the sorts of issues any new couple would. After all, what do you do after saying ‘I Do’, drunkenly slurred or otherwise? Yes the series uses perfectly executed comedy to explore this territory – the perfect cast deliver an inspired script without a single misstep that I could see – but it is never at the expense of some profound observations, and it hits the mark pretty much every time.
I cannot wait for future episodes – episode 9 went live on the web site http://husbandstheseries.com/ today Australian time (Tuesday and Thursday US time) – from a series that promise to keep being whippet smart, funny and packed full of wry social commentary. You can’t miss this people! 

Who will make it in the TV Lifeboat?

Lifeboat TV shows MAIN

 

I think we can all agree (and by ‘we’ I mean every member of the human race, so encompassing is my forthcoming thesis) that someone, somewhere – insert your choice of deity/third world dictator/secret world society bent on domination and control being pursued by Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider character – has pushed the hyper fast forward on our lives, thrown in more and more sensory output till we feel like we’re about to explode in the manner of the glutton from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, and is even now working out how to weave additional hours and/or alternate universes of experiences into the mix (too much Fringe perhaps? Is that possible?) till Outlook begs for sweet mercy…

All agreed? See, that was easy and took but a second from your crazy frantic existence. Right so, given that we are all time poor from pursuing our ludicrously busy first world lives, something has got to give right? Well you would think so, and frankly that would be the sensible option but if you’re a ‘I must experience everything I can’ pop-culture loving person like myself, then dropping anything at all is anathema. Everything must be read. Everything must be listened to. Everything must be watched… then blogged about (how ironic that I mention while, uh, blogging), talked about on Twitter, updated on Facebook, recorded on Goodreads and…. and…. BOOM!

 

 

Now, you may think you know where this blog post is going. Social media has exhausted all of us as we rush frantically to and fro, stuffing our lives full into what we think are TARDIS-like suitcases (infinitely bigger on the inside for the uninitiated) and we must pull back, smell the flowers in a quiet field in Tuscany and reflect on the quiet beauty of just being with ourselves and our friends. If you though that, you’d be wrong, and clearly not as in agreement with me as I thought. (Or possibly I have constructed a vague and wandering thesis and should be shot at dawn by a cadre of fellow Tweeps).

No, what I am saying is, finally, is that I have decided that in order to have it all pop culture-wise, that I must pare down what I am looking at, hard though this is to do, and so, though it feels like I am leaving my pop culture out in the cold and dark to be picked by TV critics till they are no more, I am culling the TV shows I watch, and want to watch (ah, aspirational TV, you make me believe I can be a better TV viewer) and concentrating on those shows I can save. In practical terms, this means the following shows get to scramble aboard the lifeboat that I am jettisoning from the cruise ship of my life :

I CHOOSE YOU MY PRETTIES!

GLEE

I have loved this show from the first episode, and while I know it has its detractors, and a wildly uneven second season which tested my loyalty, I love its sense of camp fun, the often wonderful song covers (not all of them work but kudos to them for giving it a shot), its treatment of some serious issues, and it’s Melrose Place-style dating merry-go-round.
 

Yes, I have only just finished watching season 2 (shh don’t tell Ryan Murphy) partly due to time pressures, and partly because I stopped at the Funeral episode fearing it would be too sad – and I have only managed to download the first three episodes of season3 so far, but it stays because every lifeboat needs glamourous discussion of important social issues, and Britney uttering the sort of bon mots I want to memorise and repeat to anyone who will listen (except on Sydney public transport where you just look weird if you try it.)
BIG BANG THEORY
So much geeky fun and some of the wittiest scripts and best deliveries I have ever seen in a sit com. Plus they manage to actually bounce the humour off the character interaction without resorting to cheap laughs. Even when there are cheap laughs, it makes sense in the context of who these people and what their world view is. I laugh out loud multiple times in every episode (a rarity these days) and if you’re marooned in the lifeboat of life, you need an engaging, intelligent, humourous clown, or a posse of them.
FRINGE
This show, which started slowly like the X-Files on some particularly ineffective Valium, shook off its initial lethargy and spent seasons 2 and 3 becoming a creature so original, clever and engaging with characters that made sense and were a treat to spend time with, that I can only hope it lasts forever. It won’t of course but while it does, I will be watching for dear life, and hoping the show gets to paddle on for as long as it can.
THE BIG C
Laura Linney rules! She plays her role with sass, fun and a sense of bluntness that is refreshing. She is dying from cancer damn it, and you can’t sugar coat it, or hide from it, so she won’t and it results in a show that is heartbreaking, hilarious and deeply insightful all in the space of a 20 minute episode.
I have had season 1 gathering a very unfashionable coat of dust for ages, having heard it was a gem of a show but only really got into it when my housemate played me some season 2 episodes. I was intending to watch one and watched a bunch of them, and if I am going to paddle out into the sea of life, I need no-nonsense Laura along for the ride!

EUREKA

I love quirky shows set in wacky small towns full of idiosyncratic people, and no one does it better than the producers of this show who have crafted a show that bristles with intelligence – it is about the people working for, and near the world’s foremost scientific facility after all – wit, and characters that are well rounded and not goofy parodies.
I know its been cancelled and frankly this has caused me much grief (for which not even copious amounts of Lindt chocolate were sufficient as a salve, if you can believe it) but I am only four episodes into season 3, so it will quite some time before the show shuffles off its broadcasting coil, and I am forced to sadly and with much ceremony push them out of the lifeboat.
So the lifeboat is reasonably full at this point right? So the sensible thing would be to call it quits at this point, set some wine and nibblies on the coffee table, adjust the air con (I don’t buy slum lifeboats, trust me) and let my witty, clever boat guests shock and awe me using their awesome powers of pop culture entertainment. But picking my five favourites  is akin to Solomon trying to split a baby in two – for the Biblically unversed, he didn’t actually go through with it so you can all relax – so I plan to have some shows swimming gamely alongside the lifeboat, which will be let in from time to time to sit with the Favoured Five and sup at the big kids table. Which lucky shows, which will need to be able strong of limb and swimming technique have made the grade? Why these ones, good people:
WAREHO– USE 13 – So much fun! The two leads have fantastic chemistry; the storylines are inventive, and the quirky vibe just what the left of centre doctor ordered.
MODERN FAMILY – Who knew you could re-invent the family sitcom and make something heart warming that doesn’t insult the intelligence and is witty into the bargain? Well you can!
TERRA NOVA – It is still sailing uncomfortably close to warm and fuzzy family moments for my liking and need some shades of darkness but I hope to keep this one in the loop.
HAVEN / IN TREATMENT / BORED TO DEATH – I bought the DVDs but I have not watched. I wish to, I really, really do. REALLY….. REALLY.
Now, I know you must be wondering – apart from when is this never ending post, um, ending, of course – is who has been mercilessly, yet with regret, tossed adrift into the chaos of the pop culture never to be seen, at least by me again? Why sadly, and I do regret this greatly, MAD MEN, WEEDS and PSYCH. They are all wonderful shows, the first two damn near magnificent, but I will never have the time to watch them from scratch in the right order, and so they must go, and maybe in some far distant time as I wait for my sago pudding to arrive in the nursing home, I will find the time, drool hopefully not trickling down my aged chin, to watch these shows, and make up for this horrible decision I have had to make.
For now though, I need to concentrate on jumping overboard and taking my precious cache of treasured shows with me onto my pop culture lifeboat and hoping against hope that life slows down enough that there aren’t any more casualties …

Crazy Stupid Love (Review)

What a perfectly constructed, beautifully and intelligently written, and brilliantly acted movie. It follows a series of threads that examine love in all its crazy, stupid glory – Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) and his wife Emily (Julianne Moore), high school sweethearts who face major changes in their relationship after 25 years; a bar Casanova, Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling, with abs so perfect they are worth the price of admission alone, and leads to a classic line being uttered by his companion of the moment) who after bedding hundreds of women, and making over Cal into a middle-aged stud of sorts,  finds love when he least expects it, throwing him completely; Hannah, an up and coming lawyer who find her expectations of love turned on their head, leading to momentous changes; and Cal and Emily’s son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) who falls in love with a girl 4 years older than him, leaving him convinced he has found his soul mate for life.

Yes, there is a lot going on, but it is one of those almost perfect movies where the most exquisite blend of script, production and acting comes together to create a whole so engaging, rich and rewarding that you can scarcely believe it exists, much less in the current sequels and remakes driven insanity of modern Hollywood. It never feels hurried, overdone or crowded and everything plays out with an elegance and restraint you simply don’t see in many movies anymore.

Such glowing praise, you gasp. Are you sure you haven’t waxed just a little too lyrical? For once, and I am saying this as an extrovert prone to emotionally extravagant reactions at times, it really is worth all the superlatives I can lavish on it. That’s not to say it’s perfect – the ending is a tint bit twee and so neat that any Obsessive Compulsive Disorder moviegoers will be sending in their cinema seat in quiet rapture – but it whenever it threatens to veer into cliche and serve up that which we have seen far too many times before, it sidesteps neatly away, throwing up a witty line, or wry observation, or post modern self-referential quip that sends it hurtling off boldly where no romantic comedy/drama has dared to go before. 
There are three scenes in particular where the script writer, Dan Fogelman, pulled the anti-cliche ploy off perfectly, to great effect. The first time, after a particularly unpleasant and publicly embarrassing argument between Cal and Emily at their son’s parent/teacher night, where the estranged couple look to be close to reconciling before things go awry, Emily drives off leaving Cal standing alone. At that point, it begins rains, and just as I was sighing that the seemly perfect movie has resorted to such a cliched device, Cal sighs, sticks his hands in his pocket, and mutters “This is so cliched.” Yes Dan used a cliched plot effect but by referring to it directly, and in keeping with Cal’s generally feeling that the world is against him, it instantly became far less cliched and reinforced the sense that any hope of reconciliation is slipping from Cal and Emily’s fingers.

The second instance of evading cliche with aplomb occurs when Cal has constructed a miniature golf course in the couple’s backyard to evoke memories of the dates they used to have when they were high school sweethearts. With the help of two of their kids, Robbie and Molly (Joey King), they surprise Emily who, in any other movie would be swept up in the grand romantic gesture, realise her heart belongs only to Cal (something she is close to doing anyway in  a very believable progression) and fall into his arms. It’s at this apparently predictable juncture that Dan throws a farcical wrench in the works, employing the arrival of characters, the revelation of whose identities would be a major step into spoiler territory, who send events careering off into everywhere but happily ever after land. Its masterful, fun and advances a number of the relationships with exquisite dramatic and comedic perfection.

And finally at the very end of the movie, with the whole family gathered for Robbie’s 8th Grade graduation, and Robbie’s speech as a salutatorian sliding into an emotional anyss, Cal steps in, and gives the sort of speech that would normally make you wince, but somehow comes across as heartfelt and almost believable. (I say almost because the circumstances simply wouldn’t lend themselves to those events but then you have to give movies a certain amount of belief suspension, or they’d be stuck filming reality all the time, and that just ain’t fun.) Yes, the ending is a tad on the neat and tidy side, but it also leaves enough things hanging out to dry that you can’t be quite certain that things really will play out that easily, and it proves once again what a masterful script this really is.

What is most refreshing about this movie is how real, and yet hopeful and optimistic this movie is. It knows life is seldom as perfect or lovely as we want it to be, and keeps itself very firmly anchored in that appreciation, never losing sight of the grittiness of life. But it also dares to suggest that if we want the beautiful things hard enough, and are prepared to fight for them, and not simply settle for what drifts towards us, that good things can happen, dreams can play out, and we might, just might, find the love of our life, and live happily ever after.

In a non-cliched, well-scripted kind of way, of course.

Charlie’s Angels (Australian Premiere episode)

I really wanted to like this show but I was also aware going into it that it could turn out to be cheesier than a convention of dairy farmers, because let’s face it, we’re not dealing with a HBO series’ premise here, and its forebear, while a warm and fuzzy standout from my childhood viewing, is, well, laughably bad much of the time (that said, I will defend it to the death! Ah nostalgia, you make us do strange things.)
Now I have watched the first episode, all I can say is that I feel dumber from having been exposed to it to a degree I can’t even begin to describe.
This is my original hopeful take on it, admittedly written after just viewing the trailer:

MY TAKE : I really want this to be edgy, sophisticated and clever, and a great revival of what was admittedly cheesy but fun pop culture junk food, but instead I fear it could end up going the way of Beverly Hillbillies the movie, or Bewitched the movie. The one thing that may stop that happening is that Drew Barrymore is executive producing, and she was behind the two revival Charlie’s Angels movies that, while they were by no means perfect, had an uber-cool feel and look to them, and if that sensibility is brought tob this show it may rise up above some the cloying lines that found their way into the trailer i.e. when asked if they’re cops, one of them replies “No, we’re Angels”. Here’s hoping the writers can remember that good writing is still required to underpin even the cheesiest of shows.

So now I have seen a full episode, how do I feel? Well. it does have it’s moments. Despite a rather predictable script (again, hardly a surprise since subtext was never an Angels strong suit), the cast valiantly try to inject modern edge and glamour into the show, with the briefings now involving iPads, outing to hip, stylish nightclubs, and a bright, loud soundtrack that screams up-to-the-minute cool. Sadly their valiant efforts can’t make up for a limp script that plays out like a reject from a 1970s script slush pile. Oh look, the baddies can’t shoot! Oh wait, they randomly shoot in the water and fly off in the helicopter pronouncing the Angels dead mere moments before they surface, gasping for air. Oh wow, the baddies are inept at every turn! Oh, and awww they’re a family. How very Hallmark of them.

One big plus – the new Bosley is gorgeous (not enough though alas to save the show)

Yes, I know I must sound like the Grinch who stole pop culture fun right now. Surely you know it’s intended to be fluff, lightweight escapist entertainment to delight us, and allow us to put our brains into neutral and just….RELAX. Yes I get that, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, and as a person with a demanding job I like nothing better sometimes that eschewing the complexity of HBO and wallowing in simple, escapist viewing. But, and you can tell me you didn’t see this coming, even the simplest fare, to truly have any longevity, must have some substance to it, a backbone of complexity that upholds the frothy confection wrapped ever so deftly around it.

It’s possible that the producers of this show may overcome these deficiencies, and get over their need to ape the original series’ lack of narrative complexity (yes despite my vociferous defense of it, storylines were not its strongest selling point, let’s be honest) but somehow I doubt it, and I think my concern that this is a show consumed with form over substance is being borne out.