Monday, February 01, 2010

Thank you, Mr Slater

I had my first cup of coffee in a month today - made it through January without once submitting to the devil of caffeine.  This was markedly better than a few years ago, when I was only capable of fulfilling my duties by doublefisting cans of Coke.

Which is a quaint North American way of saying you were drinking two-handedly, rather than the frankly disgusting and quite frightening sexual practise that it might put a true Englishman in mind of.  If anybody says I was doing that, they're a liar.  And if they say so on the internet, I'll put my foot through my computer screen and send Google the bill.

Which is possibly to say that after the last week, when I haven't really missed coffee that much, drinking it again may have had a deleterious effect upon my mental well-being.  Hey ho.

This evening I'm following one of the recipes of the ever-helpful Nigel Slater: a stew of chickpeas, onions and tomatoes that requires ten minutes of manly chopping of things, and then 45 minutes of doing something else, which again is quite manly.  If I had a garden shed to sit in rather than a sofa, I suppose I could spend three quarters of an hour (un)profitably whittling things, and then come back to my lovely stew.  The recipe calls for sausages - no good for me - and also for half a glass of wine, but since the only alcohol here right now is Japanese beer or cheap brandy, it gets a dose of cheap brandy instead.  Plus some ginger that I found in the fridge, and anything else I could lay my hands on.  I hope I haven't made a terrible mistake.

One possible terrible mistake I wanted to make yesterday was to go to the cinema and watch Edge of Darkness.  I say a terrible mistake: it might have been really enjoyable.  But the trouble is, having once seen part of the last episode of the original series, and then tracking it down and watching it again fifteen years later, I'm not sure anything could hold up to the original.  OK, it's got Mel Gibson, but does it have Bob Peck?  Sniffing things?  Or that American actor with the ginormous big face (it's Joe Don Baker, but I admit, I had to look on imdb to find out)

Plus, while the original drank deeply from the well of 1980s nuclear destruction paranoia, the 2010 remake has ... well, what, exactly?  I know Halliburton is the root of all evil, but somehow it doesn't seem so insanely succumb-to-the-terrors-and-turn-into-a-tree badshit terrifying as the milieu of the original.  You do really feel very bad things are going to happen in the original Edge of Darkness, but if Mel's involved?  I have a sneaky feeling he'll shoot some tropical fish tanks, snarl "Revoked!" as per Lethal Weapon Two, and then make a quip to his soon-to-retire buddy.

Well, it couldn't be that bad?  But then they might have said the same about Stallone's remake of Get Carter.  I watched that, and the interesting thing isn't so much that it's a fairly horrible remake, but that the film it's a remake of is also fairly horrible.  People remember Michael Caine saying "you're a big man, but you're out of condition and I do this for a living" but they forget that the events around that remark are bleak and sordid.  The original Get Carter is almost an anti-action film, insofar as there are consequences; if somebody is thrown off a building, it's a certainty that they'll land on somebody innocent, and both of them will be dead.  The original is so bleak that it strikes me as bizarre that people would conflate it with Swinging London, pop art pictures of a man with a shotgun, and anything remotely fun.

But then people watch Scarface for pleasure too, so there's no accounting for taste.

Perhaps I'll go and watch Edge of Darkness and really enjoy it for what it is; apparently, a 21st century paranoia-against-the-corporations story.  Which I suppose the original was too, but with more gloomy paranoia about American military interest, and also some nice English landscape to look at.

Which again, is a problem of relocating to Boston, rather than the Dales.  Hollywood doesn't have a good record on remaking films in Boston - there was The Departed, which you might have thought was a good film until you watched it back to back with all three Infernal Affairs, and realised that Jack Nicholson was a tremendous ham and everyone was unbearably ugly and their stories overly compressed, unlike the beautiful Hong Kong original.  And if a film makes Eric Tsang look beautiful, well, I'm not being rude about the funny fat man, but he's no Adonis.  Unless Adonis was a pudgy Chinese bloke with a good line in game shows.

I'm not prejudiced against remakes per se, though.  I've never seen the original of Happiness of the Katakuris (I've watched the remake at least four times), I really enjoyed both versions of the Manchurian Candidate, I prefer the Zack Snyder Dawn of the Dead to the original, Death Race was laughable but adequate airplane fodder and ... er ... well, The Magnificent Seven is still good.

So I will hold back my judgment.  And I'm not even going to rewatch the original until I've watched the new version.  Fresh mind, fresh opinions, I hope.


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