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Editorial 2003 -
Summer Movies -Cultural Imperialism- British Beaches

This summer belongs to Arnie, naturally. Unbelievably he has decided on running against Gray Davis for the Governorship of California in October. Can California be fixed? Will the voters be voting for a robot or Kindergarden Cop? I am sure our own James Campion will be writing on this subject soon. It seems crazy that the most dynamic microeconomy on planet Earth (which California is) can be so close to bankrupcy. Arnie is taking on a lot and some pretty wierd opponents.

T3 is in all the screens and it is surprisingly funny and successful in Europe and elsewhere– despite the bleak subject matter (that of the obliteration of the human race). Of course John Connor looks a tad different to Eddie Furlong these days and bears no resemblance to the first John Connor in T1, but maybe that is a quibble. All I can say that combine the noses of Clare Danes and this new guy and the next human race is going to look pretty mutated with or without the bombs going off.
(* Note: JT Brown our Japanese correspondent is working on an article about robotics for the September edition of Hacks)T3 broke records in Japan. For some reason the Japanese love robot movies and robot running amuck and destroying everything in their path most of all. Perhaps in a well ordered society like Japan they have a permanent need for destruction. Godzilla and Akira come to mind and T3 fits the bill. There is a lot of destruction and gratuitous violence. Nevertheless T3 seems to me to be only half a movie. It just gets going and then stops. It isn’t that Arnie is too old, or the Terminatrix doesn’t get any good dialogue to say other than ‘nice car’, but perhaps it needed to move the story on beyond the day they survived Judgement Day and how they found the army of people they needed to fight the machines.
I guess we will have to leave that to T4.

Why take it seriously? Well it has been a bad year for movies this year and the rash of sequels are just not satisfying to watch. Bad Boys 2 hasn’t opened in the UK yet, but it follows like all the rest with massive drop offs in the second week (53%) and Tombraider 2 looked dire even in the trailer. Sinbad doesn’t appeal, Legally Blonde 2I am sure all the best lines were in the trailer. (I have since been dragged kicking and screaming to it and it was the most dire weak, pathetic film I have seen in months. Avoid! ) American Wedding (American Pie 3) I am sure will open number one in the USA but surely this franchise has run out of steam by now. Gigli starring Ben Afflect and J-Lo is a turkey and there should be a law to prevent Hollywood couples from playing love scenes together.

There are some basic requirements in a blockbuster. It should thrill, have some witty dialogue or engage us emotionally. The Matrix Part Two failed on all counts, most of the rest have been pretty half hearted. (I guess Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ with Uma Thurman will grab all the headlines but somehow I think it will be more about excess and special effects than drama. Nevertheless I know many people who can’t wait to see it.)

It’s August, why bother going to the cinema at all?
Well there are kids to be entertained for one. Then you need something to do when you aren’t at work or if you are on holiday. TV is just a dead-zone in the summer. Cinema should be able to provide all the entertainment you need. Somehow I am not leaning towards a new movie called Danny Deckchair (on release in Australia) mostly because it has Rhys Evans in it. Other than Notting Hill, try and think of any film with him in it that was worth watching. The Shipping News? Now there ‘s a gem of a movie disaster.

Looking at the tide of ‘entertainment’ coming the UK’s way this summer
Spy Kids 3-D will be a blast. The last two were fun and opened at number one in the US. It is on release during August all over the UK. Pirates of the Caribbean (starring Johnny Depp) will be funny and it’s nearly taken $200 million in the US market alone
The League of Gentlemen (with Sean Connery) looks clunky. (The very poor Trailers doomed it early on) and Seabiscuit (Toby Mcquire and a racehorse) will probably not travel well in Europe given that we don’t know much about American racehorses.

There are European movies too, but looking at box office returns all over Europe in Screen International you can see the complete domination of US film. From Hulk, to Charlies Angels, Bruce Almighty,T3,The Italian Job and Daddy Day Care, it’s damn hard for any European or UK film to penetrate the market. The only UK films that have succeeded are Johnny English (Rowan Akinson comedy) and 28 Days Later (horror). In country after country it is hard to spot something ‘local’. In France ‘Seven years of Marriage’ ‘Les Enfants De La Pluie ( A French -S Korean movie) have drawn audiences. But there is a film 'And Now Ladies and Gentlemen' Directed by Claude Lelouch starring Jermey Irons and Kaas that has broken out and is playing in New York and LA.
In Japan ‘Battle Royale 2 : requiem’ and ‘Spy Sorge’ are the only two to keep The Core or 8 Mile at bay.
American cultural domination is almost total. Can we fight back? Will it be possible to get audiences to demand local cinema, ineed is there an audience for British film?
We know there is an audience for French cinema, but they too are struggling, unable to come up with anything like the success of ‘Amelie’ of two years ago. Yet it is true, hundreds of European and UK and Asian films get made every year. It would be a nice thought that we could at least sample a few of them at our local multiplex.
(Taster days anyone?)

UK Heatwave 99F - 'Sorry we're out of ice'

‘It’s OK, you can write anything you like', Carine told me. 'No one is reading it anyway, they’re all at the beach’.
It’s always encouraging when your publisher shows so much interest in your work. Of course, we are not at the beach. If you have seen Portsmouth Beach you’d know why. Half a ton of flint in your shoes is not my idea of a beach. No place to run, no place to hide, every restaurant and coffee shop filled with smokers and the heady scent of fish and chips wafting across from Southsea seafront. Yet is is full of people right now enjoying the second heatwave of the summer. If every year is going to be hot now (thanks to Global Warming) can we somehow make our beach resorts more attractive? Some places to have coffee (at least up to Starbucks standards) after 4pm would be a start. There are some people who don't want to get drunk 24/7.
(*Carine says that I am in a distinct minority here and should live some place else. She's right darn it.) But just yesterday on the road to Petworth we came across this very British sign for a pub. 'Warm Beer, Lousy Food, Next Right' - no worry then about the trades descriptions act...nor did we put it to the test I am afraid.
Luckily there is a placed to go that does offer choice and air-conditioning Gunship Wharf. Loch Fyne restaurant being the best fish restaurant on the waterfront.

After spending a day in Littlehampton sharpening our feet on the flinty beach and sampling what passed for Earl Grey tea we felt discouraged enough. Why do so many people buy ugly (but very expensive) homes down there and yet there is absolutley nowhere pleasant to stroll to, no place for a community to meet up in coffee bars or restaurants. The English are so spectacularly dull it never fails to astonish me. The featureless architecture, the lack of facilities, the sense of isolation and depression is overwhelming. Have we learned nothing about life and and how to live it? The secret of life to is to keep on mingling, making friends, getting out of the house and maintaining a 'lifestyle'. But in town after town on the south coast of the UK there is nothing. In the centres, of course,
there are many bars catering for the young, but this booze culture is not actually a 'lifestyle'. Streets teeming with drunken totty and pools of urine in the alleyways left over from the night before is testimony to something, but it isn't life enhancing. Most people over forty feel excluded and probably don't want to live like that. The ribbon developments of retirement homes and 'luxury' apartments miles from town along the coast and inland on estates are nowhere near 'things to do'. It's the complete opposite of townlife and exactly wrong for a sense of 'community' to develop. Take a drive along the crowded roads along the coast, if you are in the UK, from Brighton to Portsmouth and see for yourself. Sure there are pretty places like Arundel which actually looks like and probably is a nice place to live, but that is the old model. The River, everything focused around the Castle like the dwellers of Gormenghast, it is quite spectacular. But elsewhere in town after town, it is bleak and shabby, choked with cars. Chichester is doing it's best to defend itself again boredom and the car and well worth a visit to the carless high streets. But if you don't live within the city walls? Life is awkward to say the least.
Defend it if you will, but the eye does not deceive. We are a nation of bungalows and flat dwellers. Only rarely do you see a balcony that would embrace the fresh air. Not only is there no sense of community in many places, people live in their dwelling units completely cut off from the sound and smells of the outside.** If you want to defend modern British seaside architecture please do so. We welcome your input.

This month in Hacks:
Colin Todhunter –dream traveller, James Skinner on starting his first novel, James Campion on US politics, Rev Hernandez on being Jewish,
J T Brown on Judo Championships in Japan, Naseem Javed on 'the name economy', Charlie Dickinson reviews, James Skinner on Iraq and Heather Neale on sudden illness ...Michael Sean Morris on becoming a travel writer ...more to come


This summer Hackwriters:

© Sam North August 1st 2003

Previous Editorials:

July: London Art Fair
July: Readjusting
June : Saying Goodbye
Returning to Blighty

Art and the Matrix
Forget your troubles
- April
Oscars have a message

Winning the Peace
Renting in Kits

Winter Escape to the UK
Hacks takes a break
What will you seeing at the movies? November
'The city where everyone gets to live a millionaire lifestyle'
It’s SECTION 9 in the N.Y. Sunday Times
A cornucopia - October
The Kids stay in the picture- August
Hacks visits the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma- August
Hot Sweats in a Cold Read at the Anza Club- August
LIFE ON FAST FORWARD - Vancouver on speed -September
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island - Off Fringe
Arts in the Community is for real -
Time to enrol
Vancouver Film Festival Trade Show report

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