Night Tube.

Travel Overnight travel has begun on the London Underground and as well as passengers, the lines seem to have been filled with journalists (or at least two) trying to discover the kinds of people who're using the service. Here's Martin Belam in The Guardian:
"Friday’s service started with little fanfare at Walthamstow Central, as the 00.10 departure, newly classified on the timetable as a night tube, left with only a few people on board. Naso Koutzoukis was one of them. Originally from Athens, and having lived in London for five years, he’d travelled on the train specifically to head in to town to “see the drunken crowds. It should be fun.”
The Buzzfeed takes a more listicle approach.  Chris Bethell:
"Nandi and Adam, 2:53am, Chancery Lane

Nandi and Adam had been at a “great house party” in Peckham. Nandi said the night tube gave them more freedom and flexibility: “So we were like ‘should we go home? Yeah’.” Adam added: “Or we would have had to stay til 5am. We didn’t want to do that but we might have had to otherwise.”
Both stories contain some wonderful photography capturing humanity and it's most tender or real trying to get home.  I wonder if Chris and Martin bumped into each other or passed by as strangers unaware that they were on the same story.

Wait, no, I'm wide awake.

Sport Day 11. It's Day 11 already and rather like Claire Balding whenever she's trying to keep track of who won which medal and when on what day and indeed even what time, on live television, the Olympics days are starting to blur into each other. The four hour time difference from the UK to Rio wasn't apparently enough to create too many jetlag problems amongst athletes, who tend, thanks to international competition, to be pretty used to such things, but it's left me in a kind of competition miasma. I'm sorry, what's on now? Women's Open Water swimming? Ok.

The four hour time time difference has also meant everything in broadcast terms.  The big ticket events, the swimming and athletics finals, which  usually dominate prime time in the UK exist in the middle of the night accessible only to those with flexible sleep patterns, a job with excellent hours or sympathetic employers.  That means the sports which usually rolled around (literally in the case of the cycling) during the afternoon and tea time, are enjoying prime time slots and the opportunity to promote their sports in a way which is generally unheard of.

I don't have flexible sleep patterns, taking at least a week to get over the insomniatic bump of the Oscars or an election so my approach has been to wake up before six o'clock in the morning and watching the overnight broadcast from the iPlayer on my tv over breakfast and much long afterwards, before listening to the radio, before picking up an iDevice, in the hours before having to go work, sessions of sport, on days which have included swimming, athletics and tennis, which have stretched on into four or five hours.

But it's been well worth it even if I'm losing track of when these titanic struggles have actually occurred.  This morning I saw the extraordinary pole vault final, which I won't spoil but was certainly one of the most thrilling events in this Olympics, and even though I know it happened last night, everything else is telling me it happened this morning, which it sort of did due to the time difference, if only three hours before it reached my eyes.  Yesterday, I'd forgotten Max Whitlock's double golds had been Sunday night, it felt like it was a couple of days before.

So here we are at Day 11 with the prospect of more golds in the velodrome tonight, or rather the afternoon if you're in Rio's time zone and whatever other surprises crop up during the day and night.  Although I'm not quite enjoying it as much as London due to the time differences, not being able to watch with social media during those events I really love, the loneliness of watching the long distance runner alone, I am at least seeing events which were somewhat in the background last time.  If Netball is still my favourite team sport, Rugby 7s is now a close, close second.

My Favourite Film of 1933.

Film Something which is persistently annoying about film criticism, especially the sort of film criticism perpetrated in Amazon reviews or comment threads on blogs, although plenty of professional reviewers are guilty, is of lambasting genre pieces for not having a strong story or deep characterisation. In recent years it's the stick smashed around the heads of comic book films but you'll see it mentioned in relation to musicals, westerns, comedies, dance films and notably action films essentially anything which wasn't premiered during Sundance or Cannes.

Typical examples are the Ultraviolet and Resident Evil series, both of which I hold in high esteem for their action set pieces, strong female leads and general campness.  Both franchises are regularly reviewed badly, both are criticised for the genre credentials and in general treated as though they don't know exactly the kind of fare they're trying to be.  What story they have is a scaffold for gunplay and visual pleasures and although I seem to be able to see this, others find the whole business quite tedious.

But this wasn't always the case.  Back in the day, film musicals, especially those choreographed by Busby Berkeley had a gossamer story acting as little more than a framing device.  In Footlight Parade (1933), James Cagney is tasked with presenting three "previews" or musical numbers designed to preface a film release on the same night and in the final hour of the film we're presented with all spectacular three.  Even taking into account the vertical studio releasing process that was wildly popular, taking $819,080 at the box office.

Why this change?  Have audiences become more sophisticated?  Have expectations increased?  Yes to both.  But I also think that it's incumbent on filmmakers to enunciate what their film is really about and also, if the story is purposefully simplistic to justify such.  Melissa McCarthy vehicle Tammy is almost art house in the way it chooses not to give its lead character any goals in particular and have a road movie structure without a clear destination, but also doesn't manage to be especially funny when it has to be.  Which isn't to say it didn't turn a profit.