Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Channel 4 recently did one of those "top 100 best films of all time as voted by you the viewer". I only caught the last 20 or so, but it was a list that filled me with despondency - all of the usual suspects were there, confirming the fact that the people who vote on these things are 35 year old straight men called Martin who live in Slough, enjoy the "quiz night" down their local pub and watch Sky Sports because they feel that they should. The list included many films that I have refused to watch because I know I will hate them: The Godfather, Raging Bull, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Reservoir Dogs, as well as films that I have seen and hated: The Matrix, ET, Jaws etc.

So to balance things, here are my favourite 20 films in the order of which I thought of them, none of which are likely to make it into any other lists of good films:

All About Eve
The Birds
Valley of the Dolls
Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!
The Boys in the Band
The Baby
Mommie Dearest
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Rosemary's Baby
Plein Soleil
Wild in the Streets
The Naked Civil Servant
The Fluffer
The Opposite of Sex

I have admired Reese Witherspoon since she played perky, overly-ambitious Tracy Flick in Election. So during a visit to the local metropolis, I forced the long-suffering spouse to sit through her latest film, Sweet Home Alamaba. However, where Election was clever and cruel, Sweet Home Alamaba is predictable and cloying. The plot is something we can all identify with - hick girl leaves hick town and makes it big in the city, shedding her stigmatised accent and unsophisticated ways, but is forced to confront her old identity in a series of hilarious adventures along the way, eventually realising that she's been to paradise but never been to me etc.

All chick-flicks have an obligatory gay sub-plot now, and this was no exception. But I decided that Ethan Embry, who played Ms Witherspoon's agressively straight-acting, yet closeted childhood friend was better-looking than Male Leads #1 and #2. The film left me more certain than ever that Reese Witherspoon has at least one great film in her. But unfortunately, this ain't it.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

What is it about twins? There were a couple of sets of identical twins in my class at junior school (hello Sally and Deborah and Jacqueline and Jeanette where-ever you are), and to be honest they were a bit slow - I always wondered if it was because they only got half the nutrients when in the womb, and half the attention from their parents once they were born. Anyway, it was always off to "Special Maths" for the two sets of twins on Wednesday morning, where they tackled adding up while the rest of us were on to long division. But I was always strangely fascinated by them, always wanting to know if they pretended to be each other and wore each other's clothes, but too afraid of the answer to ask.

The latest pair of twins I'm obsessed with are The Cheeky Girls - a pop duo who have done incredibly well this Christmas, despite (or because of) the ridicule that they've suffered at the hands of the media. Monica and Gabriel are from Transylvania and were so desperate to become famous this year that they auditioned twice for Pop Stars The Rivals and once for Model Behaviour. But being turned down again and again did nothing to stop them. With their scary song "Touch My Bum" that their mother made up for them (just hours before their audition on Pop Stars), their East European accents, their "unusual" physiques, and their general shamelessness, they've finally made it, and Touch My Bum has stayed at number 2 in the charts for a couple of weeks. The lyrics are a masterpiece of whimsy and unsubtlety, perfect for singers for whom English is not their first language: "We are the cheeky girls, you are the cheeky boys, touch my bum, don't be shy, this is life."

So I've fondly imagined that Monica and Gabriel (and their mum) are having the time of their lives this Christmas, as All London is forced to bow and scrapre to their success. And hopefully, the Cheeky Girls are more than a novelty act, and will return with another finger-on-the-zeitgeist song - someone hand their mum a serviette and a pen now!

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Oh my god. Challenge TV are showing The Adventure Game over Christmas. This low-tech cult 80s children gameshow blew my pre-teen mind. Children today would never have the patience to sit through this show - little known celebrities arrived at a TV studio which was supposed to be the planet Arg and then had to solve a number of intricate, fiendish, unexplained and often silly puzzles in order to progress from room to room. They were hindered by the "colourful" inhabitants of the planet - a Dr Who/Einstein type with frizzy white hair, a grunting pot plant, and a woman with long black hair, right out of the Adams Family. The planet had its own currency - drogna - coloured plastic shapes, and all of the inhabitants had names that were anagrams of "Dragon". The contestants had to rescue ex-Blue Peter presenter, Lesley Judd, although unbeknownst to them, she was a "mole", and out to trick them. If I remember rightly, if you read the first letter of all of the book titles on the book shelf, it spelt out "Lesley is the mole". Nobody ever spotted that - that was how difficult The Adventure Game was.

But the best and most fucked-up part of the show was reserved for the end, when the contestants had to play the Vortex Game - a kind of human checkers where if you stepped onto the invisible vortex you'd be evaporated. It was like a precursor to the film: Cube. And roughly 80% of the contestants met this fate. It used to freak me out every time they stepped into the vortex and got zapped. Now the "special effects" of the Vortex look cheap, but I don't care. I'll always have a soft spot for the The Adventure Game.

Friday, December 27, 2002

Goodbye Herb Ritts, who has died, after bequeathing us all this Christmas's "style on skin" Lacoste advert, featuring Australian silver daddy Ian Lawless cavorting naked around an apartment. The world won't be as pretty now you're gone.

Christmas is a time when even the best relationships are put under strain, so it's not surprising that it's all over for Les Dennis and Amanda Holden. With media scrutiny of their marriage at a level reserved only for disgraced Tory peers, one tabloid paper reportedly carried out a round-the-clock vigil of AH, hoping to find her in bed with a rugby team, while her husband tried to convince us he wasn't cracking up in the Big Brother house last month. Tellingly, she wasn't there to greet him when he left the house. I wonder if "the other man" - Neil Morrisey, reduced to advertising B&Q and looking past it, will be there to console her.

I am currently besotted with Kyle Chandler who plays Joan Kusak's boyfriend in What About Joan. Here's why:

I took this birthday test to find out if I was compatible with him. Apparently we are 95% compatible. I'm ordering new bed sheets.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

The thing about Christmas Day is that you have to watch the most mainstream tv there is. Only got the last few seconds of the Queen's Speech (she's looking a bit haggard these days), but sat through ALL of Celebrity Blind Date. Tara Palmer Tomkinson picked Fabio, an Argentianian Ken Doll now living in London. Blind Date has a new formula, updated for our cruel 21st century. Now contestants have to "reject" one of their potential dates in a face-threatening humiliation-fest. Then they are given the chance to "ditch" the date they picked, once they've seen them, in preference for a second choice. The theme tune has been "remixed" and is now played at six times the normal speed. Gone is the cheesy voiceover that used to say "Welcome to BlinDDDD Date!" And Cilla looks as if she's been let loose in a Botex Factory. Can Botox be used on your emotions?

Ate a whole packet of marizpan sweets, shaped like miniature fruits. What with that and the Cilla, I feel queasy today.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

The picture at the top of the page is of Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke) from Valley of The Dolls. This is possibly my favourite scene in any movie ever. Neely, petite musical superstar and hopeless "doll" addict (dolls is 50s slang for sleeping tablets) is checked in to a rehab clinic. "I gotta have my DOLLS!" she shrieks. All potential celebrities should be forced to watch this film before they even think of signing a contract.

Watched Rosemary's Baby last night - possibly the best horror movie ever made, and one of those films with an "unhappy ending" that the 1970s was so keen on. My favourite one was the one with the two American couples in the camper van who end up as the firework display for a group of satanists (Race With the Devil). What is it about satanists in horror films? Why do they always have bad fashion sense? Look at Ruth Gordon in Rosemary's Baby. Who decided that garish floral print dresses mean devil worship?

I'm taking all four of the "Thief in the Night" series of Christian Scare movies to my sisters' tomorrow. They're incredibly bad, but almost in a good way. They were a series of movies that began in the 1970s, and told of the "rapture" when all the people who believe in God vanish suddenly one day, leaving the non-believers to fight it out amongst themselves. The main character, Patty runs around a lot and screams "Aaaaah! Aaaaaaahhhh!", there's a lot of preaching, and her evil friends Diane and Jerry try to force her into taking the mark of the devil. It's kind of hilarious, but a lot of kids growing up found it frightening - read this for a wonderful description of how a class managed to convince their teacher that the rapture had actually happened. Thank Goodness that I was brought up a virtual heathen.