TV Review – Late Review, Newsnight, This Morning, Late Night Poker


The Late Fruitcake

(Originally published in TVS Magazine, March 2000)

Three months after the last column I’m still getting complete strangers come up to me in the street and asking me that I couldn’t possibly have thought that Hippies was any good. It was, and I can prove it on an Etcha-Sketch. It wasn’t as good as the League of Gentlemen, admittedly, but then not a lot is.

I’m going to miss Late Review now it’s moving. I don’t think the new early Sunday timeslot is going to sufficiently supply my regular fix of complete barminess. In a sort of end-of-term spirit, this barmy quotient was raised to dizzying highs in its last few shows. Once upon a time the nutcase seat was filled (more than adequately) by “poet and critic” Tom ‘Fruitcake’ Paulin. Fruitcake’s remit was to sit at the end of the table and dislike things for worthily bizarre reasons. he once dismissed Booker Prize winner Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha – the story of an eight-year-old boy in Dublin – for failing to address the IRA’s brutal fight for whatever it is they’re fighting for these days.

But now, in these end of days, it seems that the controversy spotlight that Fruitcake has been diligently hogging is much sort after. Germaine Greer accusing Toy Story 2 of paedophilia clawed back some attention for the Aussie Bogbrush. But it was the originator who ultimately floored them all. On the last show Tom completely turned the reviewing tables on everybody by liking everything. Tony Parsons was gobsmacked. Tony tried to encourage Tom to hate a film about the Mikado (“racial stereotypes, Tom, racial stereotypes”) but to no avail. Fruitcake just sat there, staring into that middle distance he always stares at and praised things on their merits. Confident in final victory, Tom’s insouciance could have melted candles.

Meanwhile, the real Northern Ireland troubles have been the star attraction on Newsnight (BBC2, weekdays), where it only takes up around 90% of its screen time. The division between the faces of British and Northern Irish politics can be shocking – John Prescott has got a long way to go before he can compete in bullishness with these guys, and Paul Condon could learn a thing or two on the subject of institutional bigotry. Newsnight recently interviewed some Ulster school kids (I use the word Ulster because they were resolutely Unionist). Coming across like a Commons Select Committee they disparaged the peace process and were confidently disgusted with their hardly much-more tolerant leaders of talking to terrorists (i.e. Sinn Fein). ‘The language of terrorism’ is a much over-used phrase – hardly surprising since that is the only language anybody seems to use over there.

The accusation that is generally lobbied at Newsnight is that no-one watches it. But the presenters would not have that relaxed and comforting manner if they thought people were actually watching. It’s the same thing that infused This Morning (ITV, weekdays) during its early days, before Rich and Jude saw their audience figures rising and started to regard the cameras as a rabbit would an ongoing car’s headlights. It is also the reason why Saturday night TV is so shit, as the ever-changing presenters of these ever-changing ‘entertainment’ shows realise that an obscene amount of people are watching. A lot of these programmes don’t actually need to be broadcast. The sheer amount of fun-ness they are trying to exude could be heard just by opening the window.

Recent episodes of The Bill and new drama Dirty Work have featured lots of people playing poker. Somebody else has been watching Late Night Poker (C4, Fridays), which returned recently. About as addictive as television gets, what is most surprising about the spectacle of what is, after all, a lot of stone-faced people sat around smoking a lot is how fast it all is. When things really get going and the amount of money in the pot can be mortgage-shredding, there’s barely time to pause for breath. The croupiers have not been watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Recent highlights of Late Night Poker include the moment where the actor from London’s Burning blew £10,000 in a heads up with a housewife, and the moment where a three-way face-off was resolved with the turning of one card. I suspect that those involved with the show realise their success, as the commentary is much more enthusiastic (read: louder) in this series. Over-compensating again.

Film Review – Being John Malkovich, Man on the Moon, Magnolia, Ordinary Decent Criminal, Joan of Arc, The Hurricane, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, Lake Placid

Outta Left Field

(Originally published in TVS Magazine, March 2000)

Is it just me or are films great at the moment? It isn’t just me? Good. It seems that the major studios have sharpened up their acts recently – maybe they’ve flushed all their coke down the toilet – and are actually concentrating on making films any bloody good, rather than relying on lazy demographics to get their hits. Even when you get a big budget mega film, it has the quality of something like Toy Story 2 or Three Kings.

Not that budget seems to be where it’s at right now. Being John Malkovich took a lot of people by surprise although it’s hard to see why. Every bit as good as you’ve heard, this directorial debut from music video director par excellence Spike Jonze features a concept so outrageously out of kilter that it couldn’t help but succeed. Originality in Hollywood is as rare as a funny ITV sitcom, so the idea of a man who discovers a doorway into the mind of John Malkovich and subsequently charges admission, wins every time with this reviewer. The chief delights, however, are reserved for Jonzes’s idiosyncratic direction and the performance of Malkovich, who sends himself up so convincingly you’re left wondering how much of this onscreen personality is real. The scene where Malkovich himself enters the doorway is worth the entire filmic output of 1994.

Meanwhile Hollywood’s biggest, and most expensive, stars are playing at silly buggers. Jim Carrey may have made a career out of this, but recently the surprise is how much he’s trying to be an actor, darling. In Man In The Moon, Carrey pieces together a wonderful impersonation of comedian Andy Kaufman that, aside from the off-kilter beginning (the credits run and Carrey/Kaufman urges everyone to go home), is let down by being a boring biography of a man who was far from boring.

Another $20 million plus star is also messing around. Tom Cruise says “cunt” a lot in his latest movie Magnolia. Even Stanley Kurbrick didn’t make him do that. Paul Thomas Anderson’s last film Boogie Nights was severely over-rated but fun nonetheless. Magnolia even manages to outweird Being John Malkovich – for 190 minutes. You heard, three and a bit hours.

Now, no film should make you sit on your arse for that long but Anderson almost pulls it off (the achievement that is, not the arse). Taking the plotlessness of Boogie Nights one step further the film revolves around a series of disparate characters who are revealed to be connected by more than their loneliness. There are some extraordinarily bizarre sequences, such as the moment when all the characters stop and sing a song to camera (very Dennis Potter) or the final surreal sequence involving more frogs than the mind can comfortably conceive. It ain’t enough to justify the running time but it will make a great ‘spread over a few nights’ video.

Ordinary Decent Criminal is yet another re-telling of the ‘legend’ of Martin Cahill. Whatever Mr. Cahill did to deserve three films and a TV drama is hard to credit, although he does have a nice line in amoral violence. This time he’s played by Kevin Spacey who, it has to be said, is somewhat less Irish than Brendan Gleeson and not as guttural as Scot Ken Stott. Still, Spacey’s got a fair amount of charisma and Cahill, a Dublin gangster who somehow managed to win out over both the police and the IRA, seemed to have that by the bucketload. Ordinary Decent Criminal is probably the worst of the Cahill biopics, but that’s more because the others were so good – particularly John Boorman’s The General.

Joan of Arc is weird in a very Gallic way, summed up by the unbelievably sexy Russian-American Milla Jovovich playing the Maid of Orleans, a woman whose looks are reported to have resembled Mollie Sugden eating pies. In The Hurricane nothing weird happens. This boxing drama starring a bulked-up Denzel Washington seems so old-fashioned that it’s barely worth talking about in such a time. As is Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?, which does try the occasional shot at startling weirdness, not least its thoroughly British take on seventies fashions.

Save the pennies for Lake Placid, a horror film that actually tries to be funny – and succeeds. Now that’s weird.

Video Review: Wild Wild West, The Blair Witch Project, Go, Ravenous, Gormenghast

10 Minutes Too Long

(Originally published in TVS magazine, March 2000)

Last year may well be the turning point in the history of movies. With the exception of the over-hyped blot of the landscape that was The Phantom Menace, all the big films under-performed whilst crowds flocked to see low budget works of originality and quality, two things which resolutely can’t be produced on a studio executive’s PowerBook. As these films get their video releases, hindsight can provide a fascinating glimpse into what went right and wrong last year. Let’s start with the latter.

Wild Wild West (Warners, Rental) is awful, we all know that. But its awfulness is inherently fascinating. How did a summer blockbuster made by two people of proven record (Will Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld) manage to crash and burn so spectacularly? It should have worked a treat: Western meets steampunk with shit loads of special effects, yet it is at turns uncomfortable, embarrassing, unfunny, daft and incoherent. And it could so easily have been great with very little tweaking indeed.

Like in Men in Black, Will Smith is an agent working for a secret government organisation that investigates strange goings on that are beyond his scientific ken. The idea of a black man in such a position at this time is, surprisingly, not shied away from, and the N word almost gets a mention until Smith silences the mentioner with a tasty right cross. This may be questionable but there’s so much else going on that is literally beyond belief.

Plausibility, even for movies set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, is all important. When sidekick Kevin Kline lashes up a flying machine, some years before the Wright Brothers hit on the idea, you can’t even shake your head, as the whole movie is a giant girder of anachronistic ridiculousness. This is one of those high budget monstrosities that got away from its maker; every scene has seemingly been told to do it again but make it bigger. Sonnenfeld was once an endearingly economic filmmaker who was quoted as saying that no film should be longer than 90 minutes. Wild Wild West is over 100.

It is a symbol of all that is bloated and downright shite about big budget Hollywood, especially in the light of last year’s successes. The Blair Witch Project (Fox Pathe, Rental) has already received more than enough coverage in this very organ, so it would be best just to dwell on the nature of its success. It was one of a number of films that reflected the public’s re-awakened interest in the ‘real’ – represented on TV by things like Police, Camera, Action and You’ve Been Framed – over the artifice of eye-popping yet hollow spectacles. There is a strong feeling of admiration, amongst public and critics alike, for films that have the confidence just to plonk the camera down and concentrate on things like acting and script. Go (Columbia Tristar, Rental) is a perfect example of one of last year’s trends; a subversive teenage film that actually contrives to be any good.

Unlike things like American Pie, Ten Things I Hate About You, Rushmore and Election, Go is not entirely original, being, as it is, a sort of junior Pulp Fiction. Three stories, all starting from a conversation in a supermarket, are played out in parallel, with Sarah Polley’s amateur drug dealing games followed by Desmond Askew (billed on the sleeve as ‘from TV’s Grange Hill’) having merry escapades in Las Vegas followed by gay actors Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr being forced into a bit of drug entrapment by very weird cop William Fichtner. As its title suggests, Go barely pauses for a second – not in a stunt-a-second way but in how much more inventive it can possibly get. Shorn of Tarantino’s longueurs it makes for a genuinely breathless ride of cinematic creativity.

What does all this mean for the future? As the Oscar nominations attest, there is a greater variety of films around at the moment with the major studios adopting the independent’s practice of quality as well as quantity. The British, as a result, are having their thunder stolen and being somewhat left behind. Ravenous (Fox Pathe, Rental), a tale of cannibalism starring Robert Carlyle, tries hard to be different but ultimately winds up ludicrous. Still, the British can always rely on TV. Gormenghast (BBC Video, Retail) is released this month in a splendid double video pack, and remains a risky but almost entirely successful attempt by the BBC do to something a bit different. One lesson they must learn, though: there is such a thing as over-publicising something.

Book Review – Got Your Back, End of the Century, The F Word, Manchester, England

Gangsta Flippin’

(Originally published in TVS Magazine, September 1999)

Chances are, the world of Gangsta Rap is something that you know absolutely nothing about, aside from being aware that the people involved tend to swear a lot, get killed or locked up and clearly don’t know how to spell. That was all I knew as well, being the averagely frightened middle-class Caucasian that I am, but Got Your Back (Boxtree, £9.99) by Frank Alexander (with Heidi Siegmund Cuda) helped get me some what I believe is referred to as ‘education’.

Alexander was Tupac Shakur’s bodyguard, right up to the moment when his job description was thoroughly compromised by Shakur getting killed in a drive-by shooting. For a bodyguard, Alexander comes across as surprisingly intelligent and caring, lovingly detailing all of Shakur’s movements in his final year on Earth in a dry, just the facts ma’am tone. Only occasionally does he dip a toe into the jacuzzi of sensationalism, despite plenty of opportunities provided by Shakur’s energetic lifestyle. In fact Shakur doesn’t come out of this at all well; portraying every stereotype of the egomaniac young pop star craving serious respect and serious money and unable to realise that the two can’t be reconciled. Add in a serious gun fetish and you’ve got the perfect twisted modern celebrity who positively defies you not to hate his guts.

But despite all this Alexander clearly liked him. His sadness at his death – and the fact he was unable to prevent it – comes across as genuine, as does his annoyance with Tupac’s label Death Row, who blamed Alexander for the murder. Death Row doesn’t come out of this story at all well either, but that’s expected. What wasn’t expected is how fascinating this seemingly basic story is – detailing a world and a lifestyle which you’ll never experience.

The U.S.’s obsessions with the Great American Novel can also be a source of fascination, as it seems the entire population is currently writing their version of it. Blame Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, who let it be known that such a thing could exist. Kurt Anderson is the latest American to have a go and his End of the Century (Headline, £17.99) is a worthy attempt to apply millennium fever to our nutsoid obsession with the latest technologies. Carefully passing a laser-sharp eye over modern totems like mobile phones and the Internet (natch – soon all novels will be, in some way, about the Internet), he satirizes the vacuities of modern life to amusing effect, using the same archetypal central characters – in this case a money-obsessed couple working in the media – that all Great American Novels tend to do. Like Tom Joad, Yossarian or Hannibal Lecter, GANs want their characters to be verbs as well as nouns.

A word that is both verb and noun, as well as adjective, adverb and transitive simile is, of course, fuck. Despite its ‘underground’ nature, it is probably the most commonly used word in the world, able to transcend almost every vagary of language. I once heard a huge blazing argument in a Chinese restaurant, entirely conducted in baffling Cantonese. However, like that Fast Show sketch where the words Chris Waddle kept popping up out of the nonsense, the word ‘fuck’ made heartwarmingly common appearances.

Trivia such as this and many more features in a book that is one of those ideas that you wonder why nobody has thought of before. The F Word (£5.99, Faber and Faber), edited by Jesse Sheidlower, collects everything you ever wanted to know about our heavily consonanted friend, from its origins in 15th century Germany to such modern icons as Kenneth Tynan, the Sex Pistols sparring with Bill Grundy and the helplessly profane Jerry Springer Show, complete with details of the repetitive strain injury suffered by the man operating the bleep machine. Both an academic treatise on an unfairly maligned subject and thoroughly entertaining dissection of something more insidious than Mel C and McDonalds combined, The F Word is the book of the year so far, and a perfect Christmas stocking filler for Granny.

Manchester, England (£12.99, Fourth Estate) is a book about everyone’s favourite Northern city after all the other ones. It’s bad enough that people still think there is some kind of spirit that inhabits the streets and turns every band and footballer to grow up there into world-beaters, without having this sort of hopelessly reverential pile of crap as well.

Film Review – Drop Dead Gorgeous, Election, Instinct, The Haunting

Sad and Lame

(Originally published in TVS Magazine, September 1999)

Mount Rose, Minnesota is the sort of the small town (pop. 560) that has been successfully screwing up Americans for years. Normality and decency are strictly adhered to and, as self-proclaimed queen of town Kirstie Alley points out, “you won’t find a bathroom in our video stores.” Alley is particularly proud of the local ‘Annual Miss Teen Princess America Pageant’, which she ruthlessly organises and was a previous winner. This year she is quietly confident that her unnaturally perfect daughter Denise Richards will win. She is captain of the Young Lutherian Gun Club (after the previous incumbent fell victim to an exploding thresher) and she deserves to win far more than dirt-poor, tap dancing apprentice embalmer Kirsten Dunst, at least according to Alley, and is glad to do anything to make sure her daughter wins. As the death toll rises it’s fortunate for us that there’s a camera crew making a documentary.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is the result. Imagine John Waters directing This Is Spinal Tap. Done that? Good. Although the decidedly uneven battle between Richards and Dunst forms the main narrative, it’s the details that really stand out: last year’s winner cheerfully expiring in an anorexic ward; one of the judges is called John Dough and he’s never been near young girls, sorry contestants, before; the grand prize of $500 in beauty products; Richards’s boyfriend getting a bullet in the head for daring to look at another woman; Dunst’s white trash mother, played by Ellen Barkin, spending most of the film with her hand welded to a beer can – literally, as she was the victim of an exploding trailer home. And this is before we get to the horrors of the pageant itself, complete with with an exhibition of the various contestants’ ‘talents’, such as line-dancing, singing a song to a life-size mannequin of Jesus and soliloquising a scene from Soylent Green.

It’s a camply sick delight, revelling in the tastelessness of its subject matter. You may find yourself watching it through hand-covered eyes but then you might miss the glorious spectacle of another previous winner doing a TV advert for Mount Rose Pork Products. As Dunst says, after an unexpectedly twisted victory, “the whole thing’s kinda sad and lame at the same time.” Add hilarious as well.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a good high school comedy, and Election is another. It stars Matthew Broderick, who somehow manages to star in really great films like this as well as crap like Godzilla and Inspector Gadget. He plays a teacher obsessed with destroying the ambitions of queen-bitch-o-the-school Reese Witherspoon. This, Drop Dead Gorgeous and the recently released Rushmore make three classily comic films on the same subject matter in six months.

Comical for different reasons, Instinct was, according to its credits, “suggested by the novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.” One hopes that Quinn now regrets making the suggestion. Cuba Gooding Jr. – a man who can really furrow his brow – is a top psychologist who gets put on the dreaded ‘Powell Case’. “Only if you can handle it,” warns his boss, Donald Sutherland.

“I can handle it,” avers Gooding.

The dreaded Powell turns out to be Anthony Hopkins, who has been doing a Tarzan; chumming with the chimps in Africa for the last two years. “They said he walked amongst them,” is the bizarrely put prognosis. Whilst walking amongst them, Hopkins murdered three people, so he’s now been sent to a particularly nasty American mental hospital. Hopkins clearly doesn’t like this and refuses to say anything. Gooding sees a chance to Make A Difference.

“What if I can get him to speak?” says Gooding to his wife, who is only there to listen to his guff.

Hopkins spills his guts, but he’s not making much sense. “There’s more at stake here than your book,” he gloats. Everyone in the film talks in daft epigrams; suggesting emotional weight but conveying cornball ribaldry.

“He’s leading me into the jungle,” confides Gooding to Mrs. Cypher, his brow now so furrowed you could grow root vegetables in it. He brazenly confronts Hopkins. “Are you afraid to go back there?”

“Are you afraid to follow?”

“Try me.”

And so this achingly metaphorical journey begins. “It’s not about a career.” Hopkins slowly opens up, changing the lives of all those around him.

“It’s not a case anymore.”

Occasionally Hopkins attacks people, but only the absurdly nasty guards. His punches coincide with a supermarket trolley being smashed into a wall just off camera.

“Freedom is not a dream.” Gooding is becoming a worry. His hairline is now touching his eyebrows.

“You got involved – emotionally.”

Eventually, Hopkins’s secret is revealed. He killed the three men because they were killing the chimps. This revelation is presented like it were Rosebud. Gooding breaks down at the life-affirming wonderfulness of everything.

“Thank you for sharing this journey with me.”

He stands in the rain and raises his arms. The end.

Now I’ve spoiled all the good bits you won’t need to see this polished turd of a movie. Aren’t I good to you? Another movie you could spend quality time avoiding is The Haunting. Unlike the stupidly uncategorizable Instinct, this latest from Jan de Bont is supposed to be a horror film – but isn’t. It’s like pornography with no sex scenes.

Article – Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut

The Two Deaths of Stanley Kubrick

(Originally published in TVS Magazine, September 1999)

When Stanley Kubrick died in March this year there was a noticeable lack of the usual plaudits and tributes that tend to be bandied around in such instances of Great Artist Loss. It felt like this wasn’t quite the end of the story and in a way this is true; for the great man actually had something further to add. For Kubrick had made the great artistic decision of dying just as he’d completed work on Eyes Wide Shut, the legendarily gestated film which, now that it’s finally been released, will bring a sense of closure to his career.

It’s as if Kubrick has done what even the greatest could never do: cheated death. The plaudits and tributes and theme nights are now starting to pour in. Kubrick’s career as a whole can be judged as more than something that ended nearly fifteen years ago with the release of his previous film, Full Metal Jacket. When it takes that long to make a film, it’s not hard to see why most people eased off the judgements for a few months. Stanley has had two deaths: his actual death and, on the day Eyes Wide Shut was released and people were able to draw a line under his phenomenally successful career, his real death in the eyes of everyone who didn’t know him.

So here it comes, sailing over the horizon like a fifteenth century explorer ship long since assumed to have fallen off the edge of the world. In case you don’t know, Eyes Wide Shut holds the record for the longest movie shoot from first shot to completion. It beat the nearest competition by months and it’s certainly not an effects-laden blockbuster. It may also be the most expensive film ever made, thanks to the money expected and lost from the films a certain Mr. T Cruise would have made had he not been caught up doing 100+ takes of individual scenes for Mr. Kubrick. Many people have already had fun pointing out that, in the time it took to make Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick could have employed the most bog-standard special effects operation in the business to create and animate reasonably life-like versions of Tom ’n’ Nicole.

But then Eyes Wide Shut became the classic example of a joke that just wasn’t funny anymore. Months after it went beyond its original completion date and stories started filtering out about the extraordinary lengths the notoriously perfectionist Kubrick was going to achieve what he wanted, people were merrily making jokes about what an old card Stanley was and how it couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple of Hollywood egos than Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Poor them! Stuck in provincial ol’ England for so long!

But then the months became years and the stories just got more and more unbelievable (Harvey Keitel being fired for reasons unknown and his entire, not insubstantial part being reshot, no scene requiring less than 50+ takes to get in the can) even the hardiest old cynics were giving thanks that they weren’t working on the seemingly unfinishable behemoth that was Eyes Wide Shut. Like making fun of Mother Theresa or Victoria Wood, the reality of what you were poking fun at could withstand any attempt at humour.

And then, with almost suspicious timing, Stanley pops his clogs and the announcement is made that the film has been finished. Idle speculators were left wondering how long the production would have rumbled on for it Kubrick had lived, or whether he was maybe done away with in a secret pact concocted by various interested parties ranging from the movie’s backers, through to Tom ’n’ Nicole (or, more specifically, Tom ’n’ Nicole’s agents), right down to the legions of fans who just wanted to see the bloody thing.

Now there is a finished product it brings almost surreal amounts of baggage for what is, in essence, two-and-a-bit hours of celluloid. There is no real reason to think this isn’t what Kubrick wanted to be released and Tom ’n’ Nicole, bizarrely loyal even after his actual and real death, are claiming it’s the best thing each has done. Well, it’s better than Cocktail.

Cruise and Kidman play a drop-dead gorgeous married couple who indulge in a little bit of extra-curricular flirtation at a party. Kidman giggles incessantly with Sandor, a leery Hungarian, whilst Cruise walks arm in arm with two virtually-clad English models. From the start the themes are set up: sex ’n’ foreigners.

Virtually everybody apart from Cruise, Kidman and party host Sydney Pollack is from another country. This film is set in New York and yet shot in Britain, and it’s a testimony to the sort of person Kubrick was that he appears to have imported large sections of Manhattan, rather than take on the onerous task of flying the pond.

The first third of Eyes Wide Shut is a dissection of a marriage, and very effective it is too. “I would never lie to you,” says Cruise in a post-sex marijuana session with Kidman. Up till now this seems to be about the things men say that piss women off and the revenge they take. In this case Kidman brazenly tells him about the lascivious thoughts she had about a sailor she once met.

Pissed off, Cruise sets off into the night and here we get the rather unexpected second third of the film, which is entirely centred on Cruise’s night-time journey. Dodging thugs accusing him of being gay (raises eyebrow), the phenomenally bad acting of Marie Richardson (another last minute addition to the cast after Jennifer Jason-Leigh was Keiteled) and a peculiar fancy dress store that hides a couple of transvestite Japanese (raises other eyebrow), Cruise gets wind of a Masque-cum-orgy and the final third of the movie begins.

Although the orgy features about as much thrusting nudity as an average evening on Channel 5, it is played out to an intensely provoking score which consists entirely of two piano notes being played over and over. Eyes Wide Shut is an incredibly slow film and yet begs for a repeat viewing, something Kubrick specialises in achieving. It features many of its author’s typically memorable moments yet it gives every impression of being a film about nothing – it will lull you into head-scratching confusion and post-match conversation along the lines of, “what the hell was that about?”

But for all its power and striking exceptionality it will be a film more remembered for what happened off-screen than on. As good as it is, the better story was being played out in the somewhat eccentric mind of the late, great Stanley Kubrick.

You only die twice, as the saying goes, but there is a footnote to this whole story than may extend Kubrick’s mortality yet further. A.I., the film which he spent the lion’s share of those fifteen years developing, looks like it may yet be made, with a certain Steven Spielberg directing. What are the odds that, on its eventual release, it is Kubrick who will get the critical notices and not Spielberg? You only die thrice?

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