Birthday Blues and Red Shoes

A very bad headline for this post, which is probably appropriate. Things have been quiet here at The Ark lately, and that’s mostly because I’ve been delving in to a small pile of Blu-rays I was generously given for my birthday. Being a recent convert to the format, my collection is still rather small, so this was an opportunity to upgrade and expand a bit. The new arrivals included yet another copy of Blade Runner for my collection (a necessary acquisition, given the very good reviews for the disc), and some comic-book stuff like The Incredible Hulk and Hellboys 1 and 2. Seeing how fantastic these films look in 1080p almost makes one forget to enjoy the film itself.

Not only that, I’ve also been attending this year’s Cambridge Film Festival, where I caught the newly-restored prints of The Red Shoes and The Godfather, as well as an early peek at the Darwin biopic Creation. The Godfather of course was magnificent as ever, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would enjoy The Red Shoes. A beautiful film, and one that had me totally enthralled, especially during the stunning centrepiece Red Shoes ballet sequence. Quite quite brilliant.

Creation was, I thought, a pretty good stab at a not-terribly cinematic subject. Director Jon Amiel, who attended a post-film Q & A, came across as a very enthusiastic and likeable guy who wanted to make a film that didn’t just regurgitate facts. It wasn’t perfect, but it did give the viewer a sense of the sheer immensity of Darwin’s theory.

Michael Palin dropped by to promote his latest book of memoirs, and proved to be as affable in person as he is on screen. I thankfully managed to exchange one or two words with the great man without sounding too nerdish (I hope). His book signing was followed by an entertaining BAFTA tribute, as he talked with Mark Kermode on stage about his film career, interspersed with various clips. The event was filmed for a future Culture Show on BBC2, and I would recommend you taking a look when it goes out.

Just prior to the Festival I managed to catch the revival of John Carpenter’s The Thing at the local multiplex. Like Godfather and Red Shoes, it looked superb for its age, and it was a pleasure to be able to see it on the big screen at last; Carpenter’s widescreen lensing always seems to suffer a little when watched on TV. Great stuff. Another 1982 classic ticked off my “Must See on a Big Screen” list.

Anyway, enough chit-chat, the Blu-rays beckon once more…

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