Sunday, November 09, 2008

I Remember My First Time

There was the anticipation as I eagerly eyed her curves, knowing that soon it’d all be over. There was the nervousness, what if I chickened out? What if it wasn’t the amazing experience I’d always imagined it to be, a bitter let down to feel bad about for ever more? Even worse, what if she made me vomit?

Slowly I eased myself in, protection in place... hoping it won’t fail. Then it started, the build up, slowly rising and rising to a climax before all that tension was released.


Swerving around the track banking to the right then down, down, down, that first drop straight into a hard right turn followed by the set piece – the double corkscrew hammering you down into your seat.

It wasn’t a letdown, it was exhilaration. A totally joyous experience that confirmed what I already knew – I was a rollercoaster junkie and The Corkscrew had taken my virginity. My first inversion, my first ride.

Sure, there are older, more revered coasters in the UK – The Big Dipper at Blackpool perhaps being the grandest of dames but there was something special about The Corkscrew. She was my first. Whenever I returned to Alton Towers I always secretly, mentally gave her a nod of respect for that fact. Sure in her later years she didn’t quiet have the kick. You were more likely to come off with a bad neck than a joyous high but we had a connection. The fact that we were both born just a week apart for one thing.

With the news that I’m soon to be a father I also had a secret hope. A desire to share my unborn child’s first coaster ride. A hobby we could share, not now obviously but in ten or so years time. Mentally I’d always hoped that his first ride would be mine – The Corkscrew at Alton but alas it’s not to be for today she dispatched her final ride.

Smeg, I hear you cry, it’s just a ride just a hunk of metal. There will be other coasters. Yes, you’re right of course but to passionate football fans is the old Wembley just an old stadium or a passionate symbol of football dreams? Is that building on the high street that’s all boarded up a rotting pile of bricks and mortar or is it the night club were you once shared your first kiss? Is your first car just a piece of metal on a scrapheap somewhere or a fond memory of your first taste of independence?

To me the Corkscrew is a special symbol of one of my beloved passions and she’ll be much missed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Quantum Sleep

IfIwritethislongscentencealltogethertryingtogetasenseofexcitementandquickpacethen,tobehonestitjustlookslikeanillegiblemess. You can’t read it can you? You’re not quite sure what I’m getting at or what’s going on. To get a sense of speed & excitement in text you don’t remove the spaces because that’s just confusing.

It’s a shame someone couldn’t explain this to the makers of A Quantum Of Solace. Whenever something exciting happens, rather than let us see it, they cut camera angles in rapid succession, zoom right in really quickly and go into shakey-cam mode. They think they’re making it visually exciting and putting you right into the picture – instead they’re putting up more of a barrier between you and the film because you haven’t got a clue what’s occurring. The first 5 minutes of Quantum feature a high speed car chase. Problem is I haven’t got a clue what actually happened during it because I couldn’t see it clearly. I know Bond’s car door came off but I don’t know how.

Compare that to the first 5 minutes of the original Italian Job which also includes an exciting drive down a very similar tunnel/cliff road. It’s beautifully shot, and with the backing of Matt Monroe you’re really in the film feeling a sense of bliss before the driver dramatically drives to his death into the tunnel. A far superior exciting sequence simply because they let the audience see what’s happening.

Sadly this happens every time Bond gets involved in action in Quantum and boy is it frustrating. How could the makers of a Bond film so near perfect as Casino Royale get it so, so wrong just two years later.

Quantum is just dull, boring and bland. I’d say it actually reminds me tonally of the Timothy Dalton Bond’s but that’s doing Dalton a disservice. He played the brutal side of Bond well without sacrificing his cutting humour. Sadly there’s none of Bond’s humour on display in Quantum. It’s gutting because Daniel Craig is potentially the best Bond ever.

I never expected ‘Casino Royal 2’ to live up to the original, because Casino is simply brilliant – but I also didn’t expect Quantum to be this bad.

Not to worry though, Bond is a master of reinvention. For every Moonraker there’s a From Russia With Love and I hope that Eon will give Bond his big book of cutting jibes back and tell the next director that there is a wide lense in the camera bag. Let Bond have some fun again – don’t be so miserable. It’s not as bad as Die Another Die – just slightly more depressing.