Spike Lee Does Michael Jackson With BAD 25

Spike Lee isn’t a name that instantly springs to mind when you think of Michael Jackson. The director of films such as Malcom X, Mo’ Better Blues and the forthcoming (and completely pointless and irritating) remake of Oldboy strikes me as the sort of man who’d hate Jackson, the mega-popstar who seemed to want to be white more than he wanted to be black.

But it appears I was wrong, you see the other night I happened across a rather excellent documentary by Mr. Lee on the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking album: Bad.

The format of the documentary saw a track-by-track walk-through of each of the songs on the album; the story behind the song, who wrote it, the short movie that went with it (Jackson didn’t call them videos), choreography etc, etc.

It threw up things like a whole beginning to the Bad video I hadn’t seen before, not to mention that Martin Scorsese was the director, the decisions about how the tracks ended up on the albums and much more. Tracks ended up on the albums by simply playing them in the studio, if Jackson started dancing to it, the track made it on the album – in case you were wondering!

There were interviews with everyone you can think of, engineers, producers, other artists (Chris Brown, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, CeeLo Green, Usher etc, etc) and the same thing came out again and again which was simply the talent and work ethic this man had. He would be in the studio for 12 hours a day at least, he would be rehearsing dance moves till 2am.

In fact at one point it was said that he’d rehearse moves so much and for so long that he could drop out of a choreographed routine, improvise a few moves, and drop instantly back into the correct dance step at the correct time as the rest of the dancers who’d carried on as they were told.

It was a fascinating story, it was interesting to hear Sheryl Crow, after she’d gotten a glimpse of his life touring with him for two years in the UK, she commented that if that’s your life from the age of five, it’s kind of no wonder that you’re a little messed up.

Michael Jackson was a man who chose to speak with a high-pitched voice because he didn’t like his normal, naturally lower voice. It was a man who worked all day long to bring music the people of the world loved. Whatever you think of him, there’s no doubting he was a genius, flawed or not.

Are Films & TV Shows Funnier When They’re Un-PC?

In the UK, ITV have been showing the Carry On films one after another for the last few weeks. I’m not sure the reason behind this decision, I don’t know if there’s an anniversary for instance, or if it’s just purely a money saving exercise, but show them they do.

As a child I grew up watching these films with my father, he loved them (I think, or maybe he just saw it as a way to entertain a child!). Whilst thinking about this I got to thinking of the other types of comedy my father and I used to watch while I was growing up, things like ‘Allo, ‘Allo, Dad’s Army, Open All Hours, On The Buses and Are You Being Served.

Following that I remembered some of the other programmes I watched when I was a bit older, programmes like Men Behaving Badly, Bottom, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Red Dwarf and of course The Word!.

What occurred to me is that these are some of the classic British TV series of their time (not all I grant you), most are comedies, comedies that are now generally frowned upon for being racist, sexist or some other word that ends in ‘ist’.

Now I’m not here to get into that argument. I don’t watch these films or TV shows believing them to be real or thinking that they truly, 100%, represented the times anymore than I hope the people of the future watch iCarly and think the same!

Most, if not all, of these shows are based around smut, innuendo, the war or the British taking the piss out of, well, the British, and most are considered very, very un-PC these days.

But have we really moved on? If we look back at these classic shows and consider them un-watchable (as some do), and crass and un-funny then surely the comedy of today has advanced beyond that. Right?

Well I would have to disagree. Looking at the highest grossing comedy films of the last five years throws up names such as: Step Brothers, Role Models, Various Harold & Kumar films, Bruno, Jackass, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Hangover movies, Bridesmaids, Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher and more recently 21 Jump Street, The Dictator, Ted and I’m sure there’s more.

Now I’m not saying these films are un-funny (though some are), what I’m saying is that, to me, they seem in the same vein as the other examples I provided. They might not go as far but then again, I would argue some go even further!

Don’t worry, I’m not going all Mary Whitehouse on you, I’m not saying we should stop making these movies (although some should never have been made!). What I’m getting at is that if it’s still ok to make these types of films, if it’s still ok to go and pay a lot of money to watch them at your local cinemaplex, then can we really say “there’s no room for things like the Carry on films” these days?

I like the Carry on films, I like Men Behaving Badly, Open All Hours and many more. I see what you say when you tell me there’s no room for “bawdy” behaviour of a man looking at a woman’s breasts and saying “cor”, and then I switch on The Simpsons and watch the episode “The War of the Simpsons” in which Homer leers at Maud’s breasts whilst drunk and I wonder, have we really moved on?

Utopia Review

I’m not a fan of Ricky Gervais particularly, I don’t really find him that funny. However there is one thing that you have to give him and that is that he knows when to end a series. He could have let most, if not all, of his series run and run and people probably would have watched them. But he didn’t, he chose to end them, go out on a high.

When I was watching Utopia and I mean really watching it, I recorded each one and watched it when I had the time, giving it all my attention which is much more than most of you can say. Recent statistics show that the vast majority of us text, Tweet, Facebook or generally surf the web whilst we’re “watching” TV. Anyway I digress.

When I was watching Utopia I felt like it was a one-off, a one-off of a few episodes obviously but a one-off anyway.

The series was great; dark, very well shot particularly the use of colours going from vibrant yellows and blues to darker colours between scenes. The acting was good and the writing with its twist after twist was fantastic.

But all the time I was watching the series I thought it was a one-off, I thought at the end of it, in some form or other, things would be resolved, or perhaps not everything – that would be ok too.

However as I began to watch the final episode, episode six, I realised something, I realised they weren’t going to end it. I realised they were going to leave at least one thing open, I realised there was going to be more.

At this point I began to switch off, I began to not care. I didn’t want this. There was no need to drag this on. The mini-series we’ve had was brilliant but that’s all it was, a mini-series. Dragging it out further, creating more of these just felt like it was going to start getting diluted.

Very few series can maintain the brilliance they start with. Now don’t misunderstand, I hope I’m wrong, I’ll begin to watch the next series, I hope it’s as different as this one has been (and different from this one at the same time), I hope it rocks. But I wish I didn’t have to hope at all, I wish I just had the memory of a great series that knew when to end.

Girls

I am, for the most part, the most irritatingly judgemental person when it comes to TV series and the new ‘hit’ box sets. I am the heady mix of cynical, picky and downright wimpish when it comes to taking the plunge in a new fictional world. Breaking Bad? Sounds too messed up. Six Feet Under? Too sinister. Homeland? Well ok, I watched that, but since every episode induced a mini heart attack, it was hardly a box set for an afternoon off sick. Really, nothing since the West Wing has tempted me on such a scale, even though I’m sure The Killing is as good as everyone says it is. I have been mourning the West Wing since it ended it 2006. I watch each series over and over, in the hope of recapturing the magic of the first time, and wondering if ever again a TV series will have me glued to my screen and sofa in the same way.

Well it might be of a different ilk, but hurrah for Girls! I was late to the party, having neither access to the US HBO channel or Sky Atlantic, but after finally sitting down with some time on my hands (thank you, stomach bug) I caught up and loved every cringe-inducing minute of it.

I love lead character Hannah (brilliantly written and played by Lena Dunham), I love the prim and proper (sometimes…) Marnie and I REALLY want to be Jessa. I haven’t warmed to Shosanna so much but her time will come, I’m sure. The writing is truly brilliant, and whether it’s because I am a) a girl and b) not long out of my early twenties, I find it all the more identifiable than say, Sex and the City, which I was obsessed with, but in a way that made me crave escapism in Manhattan with Samantha’s salary, not in a way that borrowed scenes from my life. Girls may not be literally comparable to personal experience, but it has the slight tinge of *almost* being there, or least via the six degrees of separation with past friends, colleagues and flatmates. I smile wryly at the conversations Marnie and Hannah have about what they really want from a man, I laugh at Shosanna’s attempts at ‘playing hip and cool’ and I watch through my fingers as the girls get often used and manipulated by each other or by men, in a way that feels uncomfortably familiar (although the party line is of course, I would never say/do/act like that…) but manages to still toe the line of modern feminism and doesn’t portray any of the girls as deliberately silly and naive. Although sometimes we are silly and naive. And that’s just the reason Girls is such good viewing.