Romola is Directing.

TV Future Doctor Who Romola Garai is making her directing debut on a horror film Deadline reports:
"The Hour and Suffragette actress Romola Garai is to make her feature directorial debut on upcoming horror Outside, I can reveal. Carla Juri (Blade Runner 2049), Alec Secareanu (God’s Own Country) and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) will lead cast in the movie, which is scheduled to go into production this fall. AMP International is handling world sales and will introduce the project to buyers in Cannes. Deals have already closed in German speaking Europe (Ascot Elite), Latin America (Imagem) and The Middle East (Front Row)."
She's also the screenwriter. Wow.

The Day of the Doctor (TARGET Novelisation)

Books Evening. I was admittedly a bit reticent about purchasing any of the TARGET novelisations of nuWho stories despite the presence of original writers for reasons of cost and my ongoing endeavor of narrowing my focus given the limited time I have, both chronologically and in general.  Did I mention the cost?  If it's not the Eighth Doctor or some new shiny disc release, I'll usually wait and see if its heavily discounted by The Book People (as has been the case with most recent publications).  Then someone on Twitter suggested it was like reading a very good Eighth Doctor Adventure novel and then someone else confirmed something else about it and I that Amazon would be sending me a book after I'd supplied them the correct remittance and that after that there'd be a review of it.  So here we are.

Spoilers ahead.

The Day of the Doctor is very much like reading a very good Eighth Doctor novel not least because for fourteen whole pages is actually is an Eighth Doctor novel, an adaptation of minisode The Night of the Doctor in a chapter with the same title.  Finally, if you have a mind to, there's a bookend to the EDAs on the shelf with Gary Russell's novelisation of the TV movie at the other end.  Incredibly the cover designs aren't that different, at least on the front.  The Pertwee logo from the TV movie is present and correct with the book title just below it.  The spines don't match at all, but when has that ever not been the case with Who merchandise?  It doesn't even match the TARGET re-issues from 2013 which is an especially weird oversight.  Or for that matter the other new publications, the various bits of text moving up and down the edge.

What kind of EDA?  For all their reputation for being difficult, around half of the EDAs were pretty trad, not too dissimilar to past Doctor novels or the later nuWho efforts except with Eighth, or the version of Eighth who asserted himself in the novels at the centre, with or without his memories.  The Day of the Doctor isn't one of those.  Instead, Steven Moffat pays homage to the experimental literary excesses elsewhere, The Banquo Legacy, The Blue Angel and especially Interference with its mixture of unreliable narrator, epistolary passages and obfuscation.  Although it often manages to be a novelisation of the television story The Day of the Doctor, covering most of the action and dialogue, it's a much deeper experience with cameos from across the franchise and a lassez-faire attitude to both continuity and canonicity.

The overall effect is breathtaking as, like some of the older TARGETs, the story is reconfigured for other purposes.  But unlike those TARGETs, Moffat knows this doesn't exist in an experiential vacuum.  Unlike those writers in the 70s and 80s, he  knows his readership can just as easily watch a dvd or even more quickly streaming it so doesn't have the responsibility of being for being the only available source for the story so fights to provide something more, with a rare excursion into the Doctor's psyche, offering amongst other things, a peak into how it feels to have memories of the same room from three different perspectives and personalities and levels of experience.  This is the sort of internal monologue which was part and parcel of the EDAs, usually when they were trying to rationalise his nibs's selective amnesia.

But what of his nibs?  Without the need to offer anything like the surprise we all had when Paul popped up in the iPlayer stream, Moffat opens out the material and slackens the pace, taking us inside his TARDIS at the moment he picks up Cass's distress signal, his console room having returned to the gothic mansion interior with a cathedral attached familiar from the TV Movie (which is, I think, what the latter Big Finish stories assume it looks like too).  Cass is given some more backstory, a clearly explanation of why she runs away from the Doctor rather than embrace his heroism and a surname.  But most significantly his final speech is modified with a nod to the EDAs and although I won't reveal what it is, fans of any of his female companions from that period will be disappointed.  Told you there'd be spoilers.

If anything his transition from Doctor to warrior feels even more rushed on the page, although its clear he doesn't have much of a choice.  He'll either die again, having only been revived by Ohila and the sisterhood temporarily or become someone he doesn't necessarily want to be.  It's both a selfish and selfless act and although at first glance it seems unworthy of Eighth, given the events of anything from The Ancestor Cell to Neverland, it isn't completely our of character.  Of all the incarnations, the Eighth Doctor's character is strong and long enough to encompass a range of tones and hews.  He once shot a guy in the head because he couldn't think of another way of beating him, something which Moffat inadvertently seems to comment on here when he's actually making a point about something else.

A "straighter" version of the novelisation might have left The Night of the Doctor out or reduced it to a brief mention in a prologue.  But Moffat makes it an integral part of the novel and the War Doctor's back story.  There's also something about seeing the dialogue on the page which makes it feel in keeping with the Eighth in the EDAs even though on watching he's clearly based in the version in the audios.  Perhaps that's just a demonstration that in fact he really is just one man, that the same person who blew up his home planet also saved reality by plunging himself into another, who was friends with both Charley and Fitz.  If nothing else, this just makes me ache for more Eighth Doctor novels either set in previous publishing periods, the Time War or else a brand new run of stories.  I'm sure we could fit them in somewhere.

Well, after all this, as you can imagine, I have the bug.  I've started collecting the original TARGETs.  Sorting through, I already have forty eight of them, a bunch of others as audio books and the Gary Russell's novelisation of the TV movie, not that it really counts.  Having visited a few charity shops this past week, I've realised that it's going to take some work, which is fine, it'll be nice to have a new challenge.  I could, of course, simply head off into the treacherous climates of Amazon and eBay but blimey some of those are expensive, especially the hardbacks.  So, we'll see.  Either way, it's been a pleasure writing a review longer than a paragraph for a change.  But I felt like there was so much to say.  Even if I've managed to say it three or four times over.

40: Andrew Scott.

Sometimes small moments speak volumes.  Robert Icke's production starring Andrew Scott has numerous innovations, but the most potent, the most emotional is to introduce a romantic back story between Hamlet and Guildenstern.  I've always thought that the mark of a production's quality is the thought which goes into interpreting these old friendships and in this Scandi-noir interpretation, by re-appropriating a few key lines, paying close attention to some interpersonal reactions, a whole history of love and loss is developed between characters whose connection is usually shown as tenuous at best.  Here, it's almost as, if not more potent than  Hamlet's relationship with Ophelia, and it's all in the looks between Scott and Madeline Appiah.

We can see something new is happening when R & G are initially introduced.  Hamlet and Guildenstern are extremely friendly, all smiles and gleeful hugs.  But then he turns to Rosencrantz and gives him the bare minimum of a greeting, grudging at best.  Immediately we know - there's wonder flowing beneath numerous bridges here.  The body language between R & G suggests that they're in a relationship now so and we're seeing Hamlet's disproving jealousy?  But everything is still pretty ambiguous; are we simply seeing the concern of one friend to another's choice of partner or something deeper?  As the play continues, amid all the more familiar relationships, we're forever conscious of how these three characters are regarding each other, how they hold each other, what's happening between them.

It's all about betrayal.  Guildenstern finds herself caught between a current and past relationship and she knows that as soon as she tells Hamlet that they're not in Elsinore of their own volition, that they've been sent for, it'll change their friendship, their relationship forever.  And so it does.  Every interaction after that is powerfully emotional as she finds herself working against her better nature, creating a wedge between someone who was clearly the love of her life.  When she tells him in the aftermath of the Mousetrap, "My lord, you once did love me." (a line transferred from Rosencrantz) and he acidly replies "So I do still ..." we can see that there's no going back and we're now on a path which will ultimately lead to the demise of one side of the relationship.

This production is replete with such fresh yet contextually logical re-interpretations of the text.  Although there are some laughs, for the most part the humour in the production is dialed back.  Polonius's scattershot memory and buffoonery, rather than providing easy laughs for a clown, are suggested instead to be as a result of early onset dementia; in one thrilling moment when addressing Voltemand, he forgets what he's saying and sits for minutes, confusion etched across his face as though he's suddenly aware of how his mind is working against him.  Although Peter Wright does allow his Polonius some levity here and there (especially in dealing with the asides he gives during Fishmonger) we're mainly aware of him forever trying to come to terms with his new weaknesses.

Although it's not unusual for Gertrude to be presented as entirely naive as to her new husband's murder of her previous spouse, this is one of the few times when, in drinking from the cup at the end, we're seeing a mother knowingly sacrifice herself to save her son.  The duel plays out in a kind of theatre montage, to music, applying poignancy to what can seem like the cranking inevitability of tragedy.  It's a mark of Juliet Stevenson's skill that we can see this choice in just a few glances, from the glass to her son and back again.  But it's a production which manages to wring a relatively happy ending for her and everyone else, as they're seen partying in the afterlife with the Queen re-uniting with her dead husband, Claudius's, yes, betrayal having been laid bare.

It's also an occasion when Hamlet Snr is a corporeal being.  Still a "ghost", but the actor David Rintoul is entirely present in his scenes with his son, embracing and holding each other and even Gertrude in the closet scene, even though she can't see or hear him and denies his existence.  Rintoul also portrays the player king and the grave digger and you could interpret this as Hamlet seeing his father in these other beings (or simply appreciate the doubling up of casting).  Having him appear on the security cameras at the opening of the play is an interesting choice though; sure this would mean that there would be a recording of his appearance somewhere?  Unless he's not actually in the space being surveyed but simply imprinting himself on the technology.  Perhaps sometimes it is best to just go with it.

There is one curious scene which tripped up a lot of reviewers, especially Michael Billingham in his Guardian review: "I cannot fathom why Claudius should make his confession of murder not to an unseen divinity but to Hamlet standing in front of him holding a pistol. Why, if the king came clean, wouldn’t his nephew shoot him?"  It is a surprising choice, but my rationalisation, perhaps after having watched a few episodes of Legion, is that what we're seeing is not literal action.  That the supernatural element which has infested the castle has led to Hamlet and Claudius to share a delusion and that the latter isn't aware of the former's presence.  That scene isn't easy to stage, the audience always has to suspend their disbelief to some extent about how much the new King senses his step son's presence.  Icke decides to face it head on, literally.

Even after seeing forty Hamlet's it's still possible to be surprised and yet in a production which apart from the aforementioned tweaks utilises a very full text.  Fortinbras is near complete, his closing army and diplomacy illustrated from filmed news reports (along with shots of the Danish royal family at the funerals which bookend the play).  The second gravedigger's cut but "How all occasions do inform against me" is intact.  This is mainly an interpretation of the Quarto text although it shifts "To Be" earlier to before Fishmonger with Polonius wanding on at the end which means Hamlet won't be aware that he's being watched by anyone within the world of the play so his potentially voicing real thoughts rather than performatively adding a seed of doubt in the minds of those watching.

The actor impressive communicates as though he's saying on the most famous speeches in literature for the first time.  You can see a thought process behind Scott's eyes even as he's also somewhat lecturing the audience.  Every word is clear and although I saw a few people on social media on the night of broadcast questioning his gesticulating, that seemed an entirely natural result of the character wanting to emphasise his words, draw attention to what's important.  Why fold your arms or sit on your hands when you can use your whole body to tell your story?  As some of the contemporary reviews suggested, this is a career defining performance from Scott, who after Moriarty finds himself too often pigeon holed into the crazy villain mode.  He has much greater range than that.

Is his Hamlet mad?  Yes, although I think it's more complicated than that.  I think he does suffer from a mental illness but it's as we'd diagnose and treat it now.  He's feigning madness when it suits him because he's well aware of his other problems in dealing with PTSD as a result of the death of his father.  In other words there are episodes which are a result of his mental illness and what seems like manic episodes which are in fact performances.  But I'd also add that it does become harder to distinguish between them towards the end of the production  Notice how, when he's quizzing the grave digger he seems completely lucid, but then goes off the rails when faced with the Ophelia's corpse yet dials back again just before the duel when he jokes about skills or lack of them in relation to fencing.

If the passion between Hamlet and Guildenstern doesn't manage to overshadow the usual relationship with Ophelia, it's partly due to the easy chemistry between Scott and Jessica Brown Findlay.  Findlay imbues Ophelia with a thick layer of irony to the point that initially we aren't sure if she's complicit in Hamlet's "madness", an impression which is preserved deep into the nunnery scene when its hinted that her complicity may have been one sided.  It's here that we see the power of Findlay as an actress as a single tear drifts through her already sodden mascara as she realises Hamlet knows that she too has betrayed him.  She also doesn't overplay Ophelia's breakdown.  Wheeled on strapped to a chair having been institutionalised, its only in her final moments on stage that she lets her emotions run riot.

That we're able to follow all of these emotional threads is a credit to the television presentation.  When I began this project, it was on the assumption that at no point would it include the prime time transmission of a West End in theatre recording.  But here we are all these years later with BBC Two devoting three and a quarter hours on an Easter Saturday to this Almeda Theatre transfer to the Harold Pinter theatre.  The BBC has experimented with this format, with Sophocles's Antigone from the Barbican turning up in 2015 on BBC Four  and the iPlayer awash with streaming specials (the RSC production of Richard II, the Globe's Dream and a Lear from Manchester Exchange) but I think you have to look back as far as BBC Four's broadcasts of the Globe for a complete Shakespeare broadcast live from or recorded in the theatre.

Until Saturday night, recent Shakespeare has generally meant filmic productions of the plays, The Hollow Crown sequence or Russell T Davies's version of Dream (not to mention the forthcoming Lear with Sir Anthony H) or compilations like Live from the RSC.  But if nothing else, this Hamlet, produced by John Wyver, a veteran of cinema broadcasts, demonstrates that in-theatre captures can be just viable if not essential.  For all the artifice, there's something tangible, thrilling and exciting about seeing those words played in a setting where there's less scope for retakes, in which they're foregrounded and allowed to flow without an actor constantly needing to be aware of how they stand in relation to the camera especially when the production originated in the theatre to begin with.

It's thanks to tv director Rhodri Huw that we're able to absorb the emotional moment I highlighted at the top of this review.  Throughout the presentation, the director offers close-ups of the performers allowing us to notice their micro expressions and so it is that as Hamlet and Guildenstern speak, the rest of the stage almost disappears as the recorder passes between them, the pain etched across her features.  When Hamlet initially replies to Guildenstern's reminder of his previous love for her, "So I do still ..." the camera holds on Scott's face and in the ensuing moments, after cutting to a master featuring all three of them, the prince clasping Guildenstern's hand, a reconciliation seems possible, but then Hamlet decides that her entreaties are just another manipulation and we can see that hope is lost.

The March of Time.

About New month. So here we have ...

April O'Neil

[Editor's note: Yes, I know there have been numerous Aprils over the years from animated to Judith Hoag but Megan Fox is the most recent and actually one of the highlights of the newest reboots. So there.]

Letterboxd in.

Film After experimenting on Twitter for the past six months, I've finally signed up for a Letterboxd account as a way of keeping a viewing diary. The idea of know when I've seen films always sounded preposterous to me, but as I get older, it's an excellent touchstone for remember what happened on various dates, even if for the most part all the days are roughly the same (porridge, sertraline, work, chicken salad, more work, dinner, film, daily dose of Doctor Who, Twitter for a bit, sleep). I can actually tell when various things have happened over the past couple of years because of the streaming dates for certain films on Netflix and it'll be useful to have this stored elsewhere.

True, this site used to offer a similar working memory, back in the emoblogging days (thanks to Caro for introducing me to that term) but now that people I've actually met in real life read this thing, I'm less inclined to be quite as personal as in the early 00s for some reason.  Plus as I get older, I feel like I need to spend more time experiencing things than writing about them, especially since I'm working close to a full week which offers less space to be sat at a keyboard spouting off, apart from admittedly on Twitter although that still feels less permanent and more experimental than here even though they're both online and I can pretty much write what I want here too.  Shrug emoji.

Anyway, my Letterboxd profile is here and here's a direct link to the diary page.  Filling in the gaps is ongoing.  Fortunately, uploading data from Netflix was a breeze.  Keeping a record of everything I watched in 2004 doesn't seem so stupid now although how I wish I'd bothered to keep the dates when I repeated a similar exercise in 2014.  Sadly when Amazon closed Lovefilm, they also deleted my entire watch history from back in the ScreenSelect days which was still on their servers until recently (not that you can tell from a dispatch date exactly when I saw a film) and the streams that remain don't have dates attached.

Other dates require some memory and detective work.  I'll be heading off into the archives of this blog for various things, since more often than not I'll actually mention when I saw a film.  My old MA course booklets have screening dates.  But there's also some logic.  I know when I will have seen some films because I know it was in the week of release and which day that would have been.  Fan4stic was released on the 6th August 2015 and I saw it on the following Monday so that would have been the 10th.  I saw Pulp Fiction on its UK release date so 21st October 2004.  Same Groundhog Day.  Same Philadelphia.  Plus there's all the ticket stubs lying around.

Could this become an obsession?  Possibly.  But it's nice to have a project which taxes the memory, forces me to look into places I haven't been for a while.  You can bet I'll be trying to find the listings for my uni cinema the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds between 1993 and 1996, perhaps published in the local newspaper.  Every now and then I'll think of something else, like seeing The Revenger's Tragedy at FACT the week it opened, or a special premiere screening of Grey Owl at the Odeon (with Dickie Attenborough in attendance).  There's also an RSS feed if you want to watch me recreating my film(watch)ography as it happens.

“It’s okay to say no.”

Life Some time ago, after numerous false starts, I began to only engage in things which interest me rather than something which could interest me. I was becoming overwhelmed (and this was pre-anxiety!) and setting rules, actually choosing interests has helped me to direct myself into particular areas. To an extent this has isolated me somewhat but in a lot of ways, I'm more fulfilled, have wider horizons. It's a paradox. 

It's also something Laura Delarato at NBC is experimenting with:
"So, why am I doing this? I spoke to clinical psychologist Dr. Jon Belford about the possible reasons behind my urge to say yes to things even when they aren't serving me personally. “There are a number of factors that can contribute to difficulty prioritizing one's own needs. It often can be tied to underlying feelings about one's sense of self worth or irrational, unconscious beliefs about the nature of relationships," he says. "Behaviors such as overcommitting to plans or feeling a need to be constantly available may be tied to a distorted, irrational worry about abandonment.”
I can especially relate to routines. Routines are good. Routines are comforting. Except when they're disrupted. Oh.

Who's On TV.

TV Long term readers will remember my spluttering attempts to audit appearance from Doctor Who alum in film and television. Now there's a Twitter bot which is doing it automatically during broadcast, @whosontv. Here are a few examples of its work:

Liverpool Biennial 2018:
Press Launch.

Art Good evening or rather morning since due to the usual embargo this isn't going to be posted until after 10pm tomorrow, after you've heard about Taco Bell. Probably around lunch time, just in case. Keep that in mind as we head into the thicket of tenses. This morning (see what I mean) offered the press launch of this year's Liverpool Biennial in the auspicious location of the Liverpool Playhouse.  These launches usually occasion in one of the forthcoming venues. 2014's was in the Old Blind School, 2012 at the Cunard Building.  I apparently missed out in 2016 - I expect I was working.  Either way, it made a change to be somewhere with proper seating rather than stackables and yes, indeed, the Playhouse is a venue this year.

Getting there wasn't uneventful.  For the past year I've pretty much walked everywhere but can never quite judge what's feasible or how long it'll take.  Sefton Park to the vicinity of the Playhouse is nearly fifty minutes but I was surprised to discover that it wasn't that great an effort.  I'm getting even fitter.  Eating Subway salads (no cheese or sauce) for lunch every day and drinking skimmed milk is probably helping too.  Even so, being on the pavement for that long meant I needed to toilet once I reached town and as most of us probably do, I took advantage of the facilities in the Met Quarter.  Until the fire alarm went off and I found myself trying to finish off with all alarms blaring and someone banging on the door.  It's still standing.  Probably a false alarm.

Somehow managed not to be the first person at the launch.  Met a couple of people I knew, recognised a few faces, but didn't really mingle.  Every now and then my anxiety disorder tips over into being a social anxiety disorder and so I sat and ate the cold croissants we'd been provided and sipped some water, decaff options for tea and coffee not having been provided.  I think I'm going to have to start carrying my own.  My wallet's big enough (literally, it's left a square wear mark on the outside of my jeans).  It just feels so austentatious, as though I'm trying to draw attention to myself.  I'm already the person to has some metal cutlery jangling about in his bag just in case.  But needs must.

Here's the explanation for this year's Biennial title from the press pack.
"The title for Beautiful world, where are you? derives from a 1788 poem by the German poet Friedrich Schiller, set to music by Austrian composer Franz Schubert in 1819. The years between the composition of Schiller’s poem and Schubert’s song saw great upheaval and profound change in Europe, from the French Revolution to the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. Today, the poem continues to reflect a world gripped by deep uncertainty. It can be seen as a lament but also as an invitation to reconsider our past, advancing a new sense of beauty that can be shared in a more equitable way."
Here's a link to the whole poem although it seems to be a different translation to the one for which the title of Biennial has developed.  Either way, as is often best on this occasion it feels loose enough to encompass whatever mayhem will be spread across the various venues chosen for this year, revealed to us on the massive screen shown above.  The usual suspects plus RIBA North, the Playhouse, Blackburne House and the Victoria Gallery & Museum.

Although it's difficult to tell at this early stage, the most interesting strand seems to the invites to indigenous peoples from across the world, many of whom seem to comment on commerce and possessions and how their belief systems fit into the modern world.  This also feeds into a decision to utilise the National Museum Liverpool collections, at the Walker and World Museum, finding works which fit within the theme and interact with other works due to be on display.

But the undoubted coup of this year's Biennial is the participation of Agnes Varda, only recently in Hollywood attending the Oscars having picked up an honorary fellowship.  Initially, I'd thought this would amount to resurrecting some old pieces, but she's participating fully developing new works especially for FACT and we were treated to an interview piece in which she giddily talked about the Biennial theme and the kinds of work she's going to be bringing.

Which is my take away from the launch.  In the past few Biennial, one of my disappointments has been the lack of new work in some venues, not seeing artists reacting specifically to Liverpool as much as was the case in the oughts.  But there seems to be more site specific work in the offering here and selecting work to fit the venue rather than the venue simply housing some stuff which could just as well be anywhere.  Fingers crossed.

The Liverpool Biennial's own website has more about the proposed programme here, with all of the artists, locations and other business.

Franchise Wars.

Food Yes, indeed, Liverpool is finally going to have a Taco Bell, which is opening at the bottom of Bold Street. For years the only frame of reference I had for Taco Bell was as a joke in Demolition Man which was deemed so obscure for international audiences that it was poorly ADRed to Pizza Hut in some versions:

The QuoDB offers dozens of other movie references and the general mood seems to be positive. Now I'll finally have a chance to fill in that gap in my knowledge of Americana.

Slow Tourism.

Art  How long do you usually spend visiting art galleries?  The pace with which I'm able to feel like I've confidently seen a collection has reduced as I've aged to the point that it's become impossible for me to see a venue without multiple visits.  If I'm in the right mood I can confidently spend days returning to the same collection and even then I never quite feel like I've given the work justice.  For that project, it took at least two days for me to see the Walker Art Gallery and even then I felt like I rushed around.  The best paintings demand that you spend time over them, teasing out their mimetic qualities over the long term. 

Which is why when in deciding to revisit the National Gallery after what must be a couple of decades, the notion that I might be able to see the place in a couple of days was fanciful at best.  This is one of the most important art collections in the world, every painting of either national or international importance.  There isn't any filler, and although there are leaflets available highlighting the eighty or some most sought after works, from what I've seen so far, that's like selecting some choice phrases from Shakespeare's canon.  Even at some of the my favourite other galleries, the quality just isn't this high.

And so, after talking an hour tottering about the first room of the Sainsbury Wing, I surrendered to the fact that I might well be spending the rest of the year not visiting London once a month, but rather the National Gallery.  If you'd told the younger version of me that his mid-life crisis incarnation would spend two hours just looking at various interpretations of the Madonna and Child and crucifixion, he'd probably wonder if Joey and Pacey would really spend the rest of their lives together finally having told Dawson to go away.  Even fifteen years ago I probably would have found the notion entirely tedious.  Not now.

Judging by the floorplan, I managed to see rooms 51, 58, 59, 60 and 66, although the wing is in flux with room closures, some of which don't seem to have been corrected on the online map.  Perhaps I did only see five rooms, but it feels like more.  One of the reasons I took my time, it took so long, was because I decided to listen to all of the audio explanations were available and nearly every item has a description or explanation read by a voice which sounds almost but not exactly like someone notable.  One of them may be Michael Sheen.  I think another could have been in Doctor Who.  There's apparently about fifty hours of this material.

Other than re-invigorating my interest in the history of art, what specifically did I draw from the visit?  That my new favourite artist is Carlo Crivelli, the Venetian painter from the 1450s.  His subject matter tends to be biblical, as was the mode of the time, but his style feels entirely like that of a high end comic book artist, bold lines with detailed colouring, with exquisitely graphic rather than attempted photo-realistic representations of the people (note he was a contemporary of Leonardo).  This Pridella is typical,   Zoom in and notice the detailing of the landscape, the walls and grass, like a book illustration.  But this all happened on egg tempera.

Meanwhile that what we venerate now as masterpieces of world art amounted to nothing more than expensive furniture, literally in the case of Botticelli's Venus and Mars which was either a headboard or the back board of day chest.  That it survived this long, this intact is a miracle, and probably had a lot to do with the habit in later centuries of hacking furniture apart and selling off the good bits.  Apparently there'll be more Botticelli on display when some of the galleries re-open in April after the refit.  I suspect I won't be leaving the Sainsbury wing any time soon.  On the days I'm in London at least. 

Portraits Of Port Sunlight.

Photography Friend of the blog Pete Carr, introduces photographs from his new exhibition at The Lyceum in Liverpool, peering behind the curtains of the houses in the village near Bebbington:
"Port Sunlight has an interesting mix of architecture. Every street is different. This house basically had a living room and a kitchen downstairs and yet from outside it looked spacious. But despite the awkward design, the owner loved two things: her kitchen and her garden, which her kitchen looks out onto."
[Double Negative]


TV Noticed by Matthew Purchase, a listing has turned up on Amazon for a blu-ray boxed set for Season 12 of Doctor Who, which would comprise Robot, The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen.  You can express your interest here and Amazon'll send you an email when it has a price.  The release date is early June.

Initially my reaction was a sigh, after having spent the best part of a decade or two purchasing everything on dvd.  What would be the point in having this standard definition television on blu-ray?  But, friends, look at the product description:
Tom Baker's acclaimed first season as the Fourth Doctor, originally aired in 1975/76. With his best friend Sarah Jane Smith and new companion Harry, the Doctor pits his wits against a giant robot, the insect Wirrn, Cybermen, Sontarans and Daleks!

Twenty episodes, specially restored for Blu-Ray and packed with new and old special features. Build your own archive of classic Doctor Who seasons with this six-disc special ‘limited edition packaging’ boxset.

Existing Extras
Existing bonus material from the original DVD’s

Brand New Bonus Features
Brand new one hour candid interview – ‘Tom Baker in conversation’
Behind The Sofa – classic clips from season 12 viewed by Tom Baker, Philip Hinchcliffe, Louise Jameson, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Sadie Miller.
New making-of documentaries for ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ and ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’
Optional brand new updated special effects for Revenge of the Cybermen
Genesis of the Daleks – omnibus movie version
The Tom Baker Years VHS release on disc for the first time
Production archive material and scripts from the BBC Archives
Some other archive treats to be announced
Whilst the idea that Genesis of the Daleks is being released again is beyond parody, the inclusion of the original omnibus broadcast and release is a useful addition for completists. But seeing The Tom Baker Years VHS (which has been out of circulation for decades) here is incredible news. As this compilation of just his reaction shots indicates, this is Baker gold:

But also there's the point that although you might imagine that there won't be that much of an increase in picture quality from the DVD, as the Shada release indicates, blu-ray provides the opportunity to see this material as close as odds to the original transmission tapes, not just better than when it was originally broadcast but as it coalesced in the BBC editing suite.

That product description seems to suggest that season boxes are now the way of the future and it'll be interesting to see how they deal with the 60s.  A conspiracy theorist might wonder if we're about to see a flood of new episode announcements but the chances are they'll be a mish mash of recons and animations.  Either way, the BBC have found a way to hoover up yet more of my money.
I slept during most of the afternoon today, something I haven't done without a manflu cause in years. But it was well worth staying up for this year's Oscars. Here's Jia Tolentino in the New Yorker on the experience of being in the room:
"The great masses of beautiful people started migrating into the Dolby Theatre for the ceremony after 4 p.m. The atmosphere was vibrating, anxious, hopeful. Life-size Oscars were stationed on each floor for people to pose with, and there were miniature bags of popcorn to eat. Underneath each seat in the theatre was a snack box, each with an illustration of one of the Best Picture nominees. (Mine, pleasingly, was “Get Out.”) On my right, someone said, “We all really need a fun night, to get away from politics for a little bit.” Behind me, another person said, “I hope Kimmel does a good job with #MeToo.” I fished out the gummy bears from my snack box and sat contentedly eating candy as the lights went down."

February receives its marching orders.

About This month's title bar visitor is the late March Fong Eu, the first Asian American woman ever elected to a state constitutional office in the United States, Secretary of State of California in 1974.

 In the photograph, she displays the gun which was used to shoot Bobby Kennedy, when the police files about his assassination were released to the public in 1988.

In February, this tribute was presented in the California state assembly:

Elizabeth Wurtzel on the opioid crisis:
"If I had not been in a 72-hour hold the first time I tried, it would not have happened. Of course, it never works the first time unless you aren’t an addict. Relapse is part of quitting. Only the resilient-as-all-get-out get through. I know a lot of people who died because they could not go on without heroin and they did too much or the wrong stuff. That is how you die. Dope-sick people who are desperate do something that kills them. You have to keep trying." [Time]


TV Good evening. I know I haven't been around much anymore, but some extra shifts at work and writers block have forced a certain lethargy in relation to this blog. Anxiety has led to me seeking passive routines, as it so often does, so I've been mainlining the From The Archive section of the BBC iPlayer and Lindsay Ellis's film essays during the day and watching a film every night after dinner and then some Doctor Who. I'm roughly half way through a rewatch of the Capaldi era (see this Twitter thread).

But you didn't come here for such scrutiny of the centriole.  Tonight we received the next step in my favourite franchise's regeneration, the release of the new logo and an even greater idea of the direction the show is heading under the stewardship of Captain Chris.  Find above the recently released animation designed to introduce the logo, although the YouTube thumbnail rather gives away the surprise.

My guess this is the opening chunk of the new title sequence, the TARDIS dodging through space creating the title before dodging onward into the usual tunnel or whatever.  You could imagine this being used when the show appears on commercial television as the advertising buffer and as a piece of visual theatre it has an epic quality which would work within a variety of settings in and of itself.

The official Who social media has also released what the logo might look like in merchandising situ or on posters, in this case what would work just well as a vinyl cover for the soundtrack album.  Notice that because 13th (15th) is mainly in silhouette we can't see what she's doing with her hands so still no idea about pockets.  The bum bag can't be the ultimate solution, can it?  Even if it is dimensionally transcendental?

That fanny pack really is a strange choice.  In her post-regenerative torpor will she be struggling with being a different gender and not knowing what to do with things?  Are we to expect that she'll try the bum bag, realise its stupid and simply add pockets to her costume realising that girls can have those too?  Or will she try out various luggage across the series.  Perplexed, Liverpool.

Speaking of Liverpool, this has probably been released because of the presentation at the Echo Arena this week at which its been revealed that the show won't be returning until October, which makes some sense given that its only ten episodes this time around and means that Strictly will be able to get its massively long opening episodes out of its system before Who launches.  No news on the potential Sunday move though.

Oh the logo?  I love it.  It feels very NOW! and doesn't conform to anything else we've had before which is as it should be and in a similar way to the taxi cab logo of the RTD era.  It is thin, but that should only mean that merchandisers will have to be more creative with how it appears on covers.  DWM has more recently had a flat colour behind the logo so they'll just need continue with that but with darker shades.

It also fits the latest trend of putting the company name above a franchise title and this placement reminds me especially of MARVEL Studios. The BBC have previously tended to drop it at the bottom of the frame of a title screen and its good to see this variation which you would hope could be applied to all programming with a bespoke logo.  Unless that's just for this launch.

The official website has also uploaded a wallpaper friendly version of the above image:

And what must be how the logo will appear in smaller spaces:

Which curiously would have been a perfectly fine variation on the circular BBC One ident before it was replaced with the current earthlings in their natural habitat selection we have now.  I do like how the line through the O somewhat resembles the circles around a planet and the H has an element of the alien script about it.  Not sure what a whole font based on this would look like.

In terms of logo hierarchy it's right up there.  I almost expected a return to the Pertwee logo from the TV Movie which I'll always covert due to it being from the time I became a fan.  But it's certainly better than the one from the Matt Smith era with the stupid DW Tardis shape in the middle.  Anyway, here go again.  Now I'm off to watch The Zygon Inversion.
Gemma Arterton's latest project as producer as well as actress, features Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia Woolf (stepping in for Romola Garai who was originally attached) (good lord). She's playing Vita Sackville-West. It's based on Eileen Atkins' play Vita & Virginia.
"While many accounts of Woolf turn towards her troubled later years, this film shows her at her most vibrant, according to Arterton. “She wrote such vivid stories, full of inspiration and energy and creativity and humour and wit,” she says. “I don’t know if we’ve seen that side, because the fascination with her is always the end of her life, which is sad, I think. They were only lovers for a small period of time, but they were great friends.”" [Screen Daly]
The Gallifrey One convention was this weekend and CNN attended, interviewing Chris Achilleos and various cosplayers. God I love this series. Still.

Monopoly Walk:
Old Kent Road, Whitechapel & Kings Cross Station.

Travel Yesterday during one of my monthly London trips, I began walking the Monopoly board, or rather the places listed in the Monopoly board as a reason to visit some of the less obvious places to visit in the city if you're a tourist. I've begun a Twitter thread for the occasion:

This won't be every month. If I discovered anything yesterday, it's that with time this precious and tickets to the capital still this expensive even at thirty odd pounds return I'm probably best concentrating on see the world's treasure houses rather than the inside of an Aldi in a different part of the country (they all look the same you know).

Mural depicting the History of Old Kent Road

The most delightful and unexpected surprise. On the corner of Old Kent Road and Peckham High Road is what was once the North Peckham Civic Centre when when it opened in 1966 included on its exterior walls a mural by artist Adam Kossowski depicting the history of Old Kent Road from its Roman origins through the the 1960s, from patricians to pearly kings and queens. I did take some photos but none of them are as good as those you can find on an average Google image search.  Historic England has a long entry about the murals and Exploring Southwark a tldr with more pictures.

The obvious surprise is how it's almost a pictorial depiction of Shakespeare's history plays with Henry V and the Jack Cade rebellion from Henry VI.  The Old Kent Road itself doesn't appear to have been mentioned in the Complete Works, but it does demonstrate that however run down it is now, at one point the road was a key thorough fair and a vital route in and out of the city.  That said, I did witness a rebellion in that Aldi because they'd run out of change and the staff weren't being allowed to go home because they were too busy and the next shift didn't start for hours.

The Whitechapel Gallery

Closed on Mondays.  But it was still nice to stand outside and look through the window.  They seem to be between exhibitions.  Elsewhere, I enjoyed a decent bowl of Lentil soup in the public library and found a blu-ray copy of Atomic Blonde for £3 in a charity shop so it wasn't a completely wasted journey.

Ffestiniog Railway

Currently on the concourse of Kings Cross Station, Ffestiniog Railway have installed two steam locomotives and a passenger carriage to publicise the destination. Ian Visits has a short piece about the, well, visit, with a shot of an engine being driven into place. As you can see I was very pleased to be there:

Ruth Wilson is about to take part in very a personal passion project.
"But in April, she finally begins filming a long dreamed of project: a drama for the BBC and PBS in America that will tell the story of her paternal grandparents. In Mrs Wilson, which is written by Anna Symon and directed by Richard Laxton, she will play her grandmother, Alice, who only discovered after his death that her husband, Alexander Wilson, was a bigamist. (After Alice’s death, Wilson’s father found out that Alexander, an MI6 officer who wrote spy novels, had in fact been married not twice, but four times; none of his wives and various children knew of one another.) “It has been such a long process,” she says. “Getting a committed answer from the BBC took a while. But that might be a good thing. We’ve had time to talk to everyone, to make sure they feel OK with it.”" [The Guardian]
Daniel Kaluuya played Barclay in Doctor Who's Planet of the Dead. Wow:
"For the best part of two years, Daniel Kaluuya has lived and worked in the US, where his elevation to fame – sudden, unexpected, by turns gratifying and alarming – has made him look differently on his native UK. “I think there’s more room in the US to create something and see what happens,” the 28-year-old says, while unwinding after a photoshoot in New York, where he is taking a break from LA awards shows. (A week after our meeting, Kaluuya is nominated for an Oscar for Get Out; the film was also nominated at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards.) “While in England, I feel, there’s The Way and if you don’t fit in with The Way, then you don’t fit in. A lot of people think their way is The Way. I think my way is a way. And you’re imposing your way on to my way, and I’m like: no way.” [The Guardian]