All posts by MarvMarsh

Hannibal Nitrate

MarvMarsh takes his shades off and admits, like David Caruso, that there may be more to serial killers than he previously admittedSPOILERS!

'Oh. Hello officer.'
‘Oh. Hello officer.’

A couple of years ago I was allowed on this website to explain that the glory days of serial killers in the cinema were over. I suggested that serial killers had been driven off the big screen and had found shelter on the small one, where they’d taken up residence on cop shows with seasons’ worth of nonsense to shovel into a box set. This scenario lacked dignity (if you were a serial killer) but it paid the rent. Happily for me, Brian Fuller has gone out of his way to prove me right by creating a television series based on the greatest serial killer of them all, Hannibal Lecter. Thanks Brian; I appreciate it.

I also appreciate that he has made an excellent job of it. By the end of the third Hannibal film, the intriguingly named Hannibal, the character had sunk to such grievous, humiliating lows that it was like seeing an ex-heavyweight boxing world champion wrestling a monkey at a carnival. And remember, this is the man once awarded the title of greatest movie villain of all time by the American Film Institute. A title much coveted, as you can imagine. Darth Vader, Norman Bates, The Joker, Dominic Torretto out of The Fast and the Furious: they were all after it, but Hannibal got it. So what happened to Hannibal is sad indeed. Thomas Harris, the character’s creator, had ratcheted up the operatic ludicrousness that was always a feature of the series and – consciously or not – turned the whole thing into an overblown fiesta of grand-scale idiocy. Ridley Scott directed the film version and sadly decided that Harris was right.
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That was UNREAL!

by MarvMarsh

EEEEEEEAGLES!


Recently I became a fan of the Westish Harpooners. They are a college baseball team and they don’t exist. Those seem like two extremely good reasons not to care what the Westish Harpooners get up to but as I got to a part in Chad Harbarch’s novel The Art of Fielding where the legendary Mike Schwartz, catcher and leader of  the Harpooners, is crouched in the batter’s box with the game on his shoulders, I could not have been more emotionally invested if Schwartz was about to take his best swing at my undefended testicles. I love sport; I even love it when somebody makes it up.

Continue reading That was UNREAL!

A Game of Two Halves

BY MARVMARSH

Ta ra pa pum pum

It occurred to me the other day that in just about every new film I have seen recently the male lead has popped off his top at the first available opportunity. Then I thought about it some more and was forced to admit that no, that isn’t quite true. After all, at no point in True Grit does Jeff Bridges pause in the middle of the Choctaw nation and break out his chest, right there in front of an aghast Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld. Still, in a lot of new films I’ve watched, an awful lot of men find reasons to get themselves shirtless. Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love, Eric Bana in The Time Traveller’s Wife, Jim Sturgess in One Day, Justin Timberlake in Friends with Benefits, Chris Hemsworth in Thor and so on. It seems to have become a regular event. Of course, the king of the shirtless is Matthew McConaughey, a man who has long considered a moment on camera with anything obscuring his chest, including a co-star, to be an affront to everything he stands for. Where he has led, plenty now follow.

The film that really made me think there has been a deliberate shift towards getting some naked man action on screen was Crazy, Stupid, Love. Ryan Gosling sits there, with his face which is actually an unhappy collaboration of two halves of faces, the facial equivalent of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing ‘Little Drummer Boy’, with his top off because Emma Stone asked him to take it off, and she comments on how spectacular his body is (“Seriously? You look like you’ve been photoshopped”). What an odd scene. It really is just, hey, look at Ryan Gosling’s body! And he sits there looking all yeah, it’s pretty good I know, smiling with his wonky, half and half, ‘Little Drummer Boy’ face.
Continue reading A Game of Two Halves

Shake Your Money Maker

MarvMarsh looks at the history of big finance on screen

Gordon was very happy with his 'free calls on the beach at sunset' plan

Gordon Gekko; Larry the Liquidator; the Duke brothers. They may sound like professional wrestlers but what they actually are is nothing like as honest and noble. They are cinema’s money men. The people at the top of the writhing pile of maggots that is the financial industry. It is not an industry that Hollywood understands, or if it does then that does not translate into a willingness to portray it accurately. A few broad strokes give us a man on the edge, betting the firm in a desperate attempt to save his drink-soaked skin; a few more give us his boss, who spends his days in his gigantic office or the back of his limousine, drinking whiskey and handing out lessons on what life is really like. A final few more gives us the young Turk who realises something is badly wrong and saves his soul by bringing down the firm and walking away. And that, pretty much, is the financial industry on film.

Given that we now live in a post-apocalyptic landscape after our dreams were all laid to waste by the feckless actions of some greedy banker scum, or so the story goes, perhaps that is all the financial industry really deserves. Films have a difficult relationship with work as it is, so to accurately and interestingly cover the work of people it is going to be hard to portray as human, let alone sympathetic, is a big ask. Also, is there really an audience for a film about an individual diligently carving out a good reputation for himself in the Compliance department of an international bank? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t want to be the one pitching it. Actually, of course I would because what if it sold? I’d be a millionaire! But it wouldn’t. I can’t even get that to fly in my dreams.

Here’s an idea for an exciting scene in a film, Producer Guy. Continue reading Shake Your Money Maker

The Rise and Fall of Cinema’s Greatest Monster

by Marv Marsh

'He was a quite feral-looking man with yellow-white hair and red eyes, as if he'd spent his life in battle, battling psychopaths, the very forces of evil.' - "The Psychopath Test", Jon Ronson.

You have to feel sorry for serial killers. Fifteen or twenty years ago they were cock of the walk. You couldn’t go five yards in any direction without bumping into one that had been in the movies, or whose film was in production, or who was on his way to lunch with Scorsese to talk about a project. Every febrile scrawling on their bedroom walls was gazed at lovingly by the camera. If they wandered out to indulge in the brutal and ritualistic murder of a young woman they could be sure a camera would be there too. The late eighties and nineties were when they were in their pomp and they comported themselves like the cinematic gods they were. And now, they are a sideshow: something turned to rarely and reluctantly, like custard creams.

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Video Games and Me

by MarvMarsh

Computer games entered my life in the same way they would have entered that of many children born in the early 70s: by way of my parents turning up one day and forking out for an Atari 2600 console. It was practically the beginning of home gaming and I was right there, kneeling on the floor a couple of yards from the television, taking all 128 bytes of RAM right in my face.

The first game, my first game, was “Combat”. You were a tank, or a plane, and you tried to kill an enemy tank or plane in one on one battle in various battlefields. Bullets could swerve! Yeah, take that, awful film starring Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and a Loom of Fate; bullets were swerving in the 70s and it was fantastic. Other games followed quickly (luckily my dad kept them coming for a few months) and I loved them. “Pac-Man”, “Berzerk”, “The Empire Strikes Back” (I remember them all) and, best of the lot, “Adventure”, a game I will return to later. I played on the Atari 2600 all the time, as I did all the computers that followed it. Spectrum, Commodore 128 (ooh get me, not having the C64 but the bigger one instead. The drawback was that you had to use a different disc drive and some games wouldn’t load, so that worked out well), Amiga. For something like 15 years I loved games. Then one day, while I wasn’t looking, I fell out of love.

Continue reading Video Games and Me