Friday, March 06, 2009
Diary done, now to rant about Red Riding and credulous TV critics
Right, that's the Sunday Herald Diary (aka Tom Morton's Week) off to the subs and I can concentrate on writing for free...
Last night's first film in the adaptation of David Peace's Red Riding books, has been hailed by foaming-mouthed TV critics as brilliant beyond belief. These people are clearly wrong. What's more, they didn't watch it last night, infected with ad breaks and in its proper broadcast time frame. They watched it on DVD, possibly weeks ago, or saw a preview in a theatre, feted with press packs, drinks and little snacky things. And possibly t-shirts.
They are also, it would seem, people who have never watched the original Get Carter (I think I've seen it five times, but it might be seven), and who seem to think Life on Mars was just about the cars and the tunes. Or read David Peace's books. Or seen Our Friends in the North.
Peace's books are dense, dark, somewhat dodgy affairs, hanging fictional and political extrapolations on real events. Tokyo Year Zero, his latest, is particularly opaque.
The TV adapation of Red Riding/1974 was self-important, set-designed to within an inch of its life, vacuously scripted and directed for visual impact rather than narrative sense. The acting was uniformly great, especially Sean Bean. Though I kept wondering what sometime Radio One DJ Sarah Cox was doing in it (actually Rebecca Hall). Property development is the key plot motif in both Our Friends in the North and Get Carter, and the similarities went beyond 'tribute'. Red Riding/74 was teeth-gnashingly derivative.
Shamelessly, I will now cut and paste from one of my Facebook comments:
The director loved his set design, didn't he? (Takes deep breath...) WHY do all 'historic' dramas decorate interiors ONLY from the exact time they're set in? Our house in the 70s had stuff from the 50s, 60s AND 70s. Interestingly, they got that right with the cars (though the Jensen - should have been an FF - was too new and the Ford Pops too ... Read moreold) The Viva HC was nice but not as cool as the glorious coke-bottle HB would have been But they tried to make architecture and interiors into characters. That hunting/Red Riding Hood wallpaper!
On the money Malcolm: the seventies weren't CGI brown, not even in Yorkshire. And some of the acting was brilliant - Sean Bean especially. Interesting to see Warren Clarke and David Morrissey in the background, warming up.
David Peace is a difficult, some (I) would say overrated writer, and squeezing his books into ITV segment was always going to be difficult.
Anyway. I will of course watch the next film, directed not by 1974's Julian Jarrold, but Oscar winner (for Man on Wire) James Marsh. That's the one based on the Yorkshire Ripper case. But if these gullible critics think this stuff is good, they should take a gander at Dexter, The Wire ( of course), and, to see what can be done with this kind of material by a really ruthless, non-arty big-time director (with perfect northern English credentials) Tony Scott's merciless Man on Fire (not Wire).
Not to mention the best ever British TV conspiracy thriller series, the still-stunning Edge of Darkness.
Which, by the way, is being remade for the movies by the original director, Martin Campbell, starring Mel Gibson and with a script by William Monahan, who brilliantly adapted The Departed. from the wonderful Honk Kong trilogy Infernal Affairs.
People are saying it won't match the original. Can I just say that I have a feeling it will be absolutely, stonkingly brilliant, with Gibson at his Payback/Year of Living Dangerously best? I sure do hope so. Underestimate Columcille Gerard Gibson at your peril.