Monthly Archives: July 2006

No, Mr Bond, I Expect You To Fry

The James Bond soundstage at Pinewood Studios burnt down today. I just saw it on Sky News, all twisted and blackened, the proud “007” sign on its side scorched and unreadable.

I walked past that soundstage a mere two weeks ago and it made me go all tingly inside, like I was a psychic walking by a hangar full of celluloid ghosts and hearing them call out to me. That soundstage contained pure cinema history and I’m devastated it’s been devastated.

And how’s this for strange? When I was there I took a picture of the building, lit up beautifully by floodlights and the moon, on my cameraphone. I deleted that picture this morning after concluding I probably wouldn’t look at it much and I’d should be able to see it again one day and take a better shot.

Oops.

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To P Or Not To P

I’m on holiday this week. I can’t afford to go anywhere and my flat’s as hot as Satan’s barbecue, but I’m still having a wicked time just hangin’ out, watchin’ DVDs and writin’. (And, it seems, using a lot of apostrophes on the end of words.)

Yesterday I had lunch in South Kensington with my friend Paul, who then took me to the Space NK store where he occasionally works and had one of his colleagues give me a makeover. Y’know, I never would have thought purple eye shadow would look good on me, but it does. I SO should have been a goth when I was a teenager!

Afterwards I went to a screening of My Super Ex-Girlfriend at the 20th Century Fox headquarters in Soho Square (the only word I can think of to sum up the movie is “Meh”). Getting there too early, I sat on a bench in the square and puzzled over the Human Condition. London is in the grip of a drought and a scorching hot summer, which has made the grass in Soho Square not just die but turn into a barren sea of dust. However, despite the fact the ground was nothing but dead weeds, a million cigarette butts and pigeon droppings, people were still eating picnics, sunbathing and relaxing on it. Why? Why would they do this? Are they insane? Was some part of their brain telling them it was lovely soft grass rather than a filthy desert wasteland?

I don’t get some people. I really don’t.

And, while I’m having a rant… I needed to use the toilets in the Trocadero earlier in the day (if you don’t already know, the Trocadero is the video arcade and mall in Piccadilly Circus filled with screaming kids and noisy teenagers). To my annoyance, there was a sign outside the toilets announcing they cost 50p to use. That’s a HELL of a lot of money to spend a penny; most toilets charge 20p at the most. But I was pretty desperate, I had some change and swallowed my objections after a minute’s contemplation.

But when I put my change in the turnstile, it went right through the machine. The attendant came up to me and shook her head (in, may I say, a very cocky manner). “You need to put in a 50p piece,” she ordered.

“Oh, I’m afraid I don’t have one,” I replied, smiling. I held out my change – two 20p pieces and a 10p, adding up to a perfectly healthy 50 pence. “Here you go.”

But she was still shaking her head. “No, I can’t let you in unless you have a 50 pence piece.”

I stared at her. “But I have the money right here.”

“Go get it changed into a 50p somewhere. I can’t let you in with change. You need a 50p.”

This, from a girl standing there with a key to the turnstile.

Nobody had ever said to her, “Take the money yourself if they don’t have the proper kind of coin.” Nobody had ever explained that by turning people away, her employers were losing money. She was simply refusing to let anybody into her toilets without a 50 pence piece. And did you know that there are fewer 50 pence pieces in circulation than any other form of British currency? So she must refuse at least a hundred people a day (the Trocadero is very, very busy).

I have never in my life been rude to a shop assistant, waiter, bus driver, cashier or toilet attendant, but the complete stupidity of Miss 50p Jobsworth coupled with the heat of the day and the fact I really needed to use the bathroom made me swear at her. Loudly. I told her she was talking rubbish (only I didn’t use the word ‘rubbish’) and told her to sod off and stop being such a stupid $£^$%.

She thoroughly deserved it, but I feel I’ve crossed a line now. Soon I’ll be shouting at bank tellers and telling bus drivers they drive badly. I’d better rein myself in or those nice lads at my local Tescos who always grin at me will be getting a slap. Woah, momma!

But honestly, have you ever heard of anything so dumb in your entire life as refusing to accept money off someone when they offer it to you?

I say again: I don’t get some people.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: I was so angry afterwards I didn’t even need to pee any more. Result!

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Grounded

Never check your answerphone messages the morning you’re supposed to get on a plane and fly to New Zealand.

If you do, you may find three frantic messages waiting for you: two left at 2.10am from a frantic film publicist and one left at 7am from your boss, all telling you NOT TO GET ON THE PLANE BECAUSE THE SET VISIT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

Four hours before I had to leave. Bad weather in Wellington, apparently, with landslides and all sorts of stormy gremlins conspiring to hold up filming and thus make it difficult for the production to host any guests right now, let alone a bucketload of journalists from LA and two from London.

But that’s all right. I’m sure that one day, eventually, I’ll get another all-expenses-paid trip to New Zealand to visit Weta Workshop – somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for, oooh, five or six years now – flying business class with a limo service from my house to the airport and back and staying in a swish hotel with free room service and all my meals outside the hotel paid for anyway and with a Lord of the Rings tour of Wellington already booked so I can turn it into a future SFX column and, oh yes, did I mention all expenses paid?

I’ve seen fish served up on dinner plates in fancy restaurants that look less gutted than I do right now.

Still, I do find it ironic that I was looking forward to a New Zealand winter and that’s the very thing that’s stopped me getting there. There’s not really anything I can do about it except swallow hard, say, “Oh well, c’est la vie!” and get on with watching season two of Veronica Mars (given to me by my friend Scott so I could watch it on the flight). God bless Veronica: she’s really cheered me up!

I’ve eaten an extraodinary amount of chocolate ice cream since Friday. Can’t think why…

Oh well. C’est la vie.

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Up, Up And Awayyyy…

I fly to Wellington tomorrow. Tonight my friend Paul is coming round to cut and dye my hair (in his words, he’s going to “blonde me up like a teenage Jezebel”, which has got me rather worried) and I really hope I get a good night’s sleep, something I haven’t managed to do all week because of the heatwave we’re having at the moment. It’s been so hot I’ve had to unplug every single electrical item in my flat in case it overheats, and I can only watch TV if there’s a fan blowing on it to cool it down. Isn’t that madness?

But it’s winter in New Zealand right now. Oh, the bliss!

I’m a wee bit excited.

Something else that’s had me excited this week: Superman Returns. I saw it London’s IMAX cinema on Tuesday night (sitting two seats from Shaun Of The Dead director Edgar Wright, she says, shamelessly namedropping). Twenty minutes of the movie were in 3-D, so we had to put on the most enormous 3-D glasses whenever a symbol flashed up on the screen and then remove them when it flashed again – it was like watching a 1950s B-movie at a drive-in and was utterly hilarious. I’m still not convinced about 3-D, but it was certainly an “immersive experience”, as the IMAX press notes pointed out!

The biggest screen in the UK and the novelty of 3-D only enhanced the fact that Superman Returns is beautifully, wonderfully, amazingly good. I’ve done nothing but whinge and gripe for two years that Brandon Routh was miscast and Bryan Singer must have lost his touch, but now I apologise to them both. I’d knock on their front doors and tell them if I could; instead, I’ll just say sorry on this blog. I was wrong, wrong, WRONG!

The film is great, but Brandon Routh is extraordinary. I sat down expecting to hate him and instead I fell in love. Not in my usual, “He’s a sexy man, therefore I fancy him!” kind of way, but in a completely un-sexual, “He’s really Superman!” way. Superman was the first film I ever loved as a child and it was the first thing I kept on videotape and watched over and over and over (this was back in the early ’80s, when nobody owned movies like they do today). Christopher Reeve’s Superman is one of the most iconic figures in my life, a character I love so much I can’t even put it into words. That’s why I hated Routh when he was cast: because he wasn’t Reeve. I was horribly prejudiced, I’ll admit it. I’m so, so sorry…

Because Routh IS Reeve. He’s so like him that there are moments in Superman Returns when you feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. He’s a perfect geeky, bumbling Clark Kent. His Superman is noble and majestic, straight-faced and warm. And yet Routh’s brought his own presence to the role, too, so it’s not an homage, he’s just… well, he’s Superman. What else can I say? The Man of Steel is back.

Halfway through Superman Returns I realised Singer had achieved the impossible: he brought my childhood back to life. You know how my previous few blog entries have been full of me saying, “I’m so happy!” Forget all that. THIS is real happiness. Superman is back, and he’s MY Superman, too.

I really hope they show the movie on the plane to New Zealand.

Even though there’s a nasty plane crash in it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I wish Supes was real.

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