Sunday, 20 February 2011


Baking Made Easy
1x05 Bake to Impress
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

Yugo the Negotiator
1x01 Negotiator
1x02 Resolve
1x03 Contact
For my thoughts on these episodes, look here.


Sabrina (1954)
[#22 in 100 Films in a Year 2011]


I've become lax and listing music again. So much for my good intentions. Anyway, I have mostly been listening to...

Once: Music from the Motion Picture by Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová

The Social Network by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Plus, today...

The Union by Elton John & Leon Russell
[4th listen]

this week on 100 Films

Just 1 new review was posted to 100 Films in a Year this week, rounding off David Fincher Week...

The Social Network (2010)
Reviews have been stuffed with superlatives — again, just look at the DVD cover — and while I agree with the counterpoint that it’s too soon to tell if it’s a classic or generation-defining (it’s about a generation-defining phenomenon, that doesn’t inherently make it a generation-defining film), there’s every chance it will indeed turn out to be both. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still an incredible piece of filmmaking.

Talking of rounding off David Fincher Week -- in which I reviewed all eight of David Fincher's films, lest you've forgotten -- I also had a bit of a summary post.

More (though no more Fincher, obviously) next Sunday.

Yugo the Negotiator, Episodes 1-3

Anime series about a privately-contracted hostage negotiator.

The first three episodes -- Negotiator, Resolve and Contact (ignore the titles at those links, they're incorrect) -- make up the first half of the first storyline. Only 13 episodes and two story arcs were made -- unfortunately, because the series has a lot of promise.

It's unusual for an anime show in its lack of action -- you imagine their usual interpretation of such a scenario would be for the character to go in all guns blazing, probably in a giant robot. (If you think I'm being stereotypical in such a view, read some of the reviews from dedicated anime sites.) Instead, Yugo is slow-paced and somewhat methodical, as the titular hero sets about investigating the situation and treading carefully, all with a very realistic and well-researched style.

It improves as it goes on too, a little like (though, to be frank, not as good as) The Wire -- the accumulation of knowledge and settling into the series' pace and style allows it to improve; later episodes aren't necessarily better in and of themselves, but the whole thing improves as it grows. It's the kind of slow-paced that's addictive: the running time mostly dashes past, but with so little development you long for the next episode to see the story continue.

In these respects it's rather good then, but it's let down by some occasionally woeful dialogue in the English dub. The acting is mostly fine, and they've gone to a lot of trouble to respectfully depict Pakistan (more than the Japanese dub did, it seems), but sometimes a better script is called for. Even worse, though, is the truly dreadful and shockingly inappropriate theme music. It's a jazzy number that doesn't fit the grim, serious, realistic tone of the series at all. I rarely skip title sequences -- they're part of the programme after all -- but here I'm seriously tempted.

On the evidence of these first few episodes I can see why Yugo isn't among the most well-known of anime series -- as those reviews point out, it's an acquired taste for a (Western) fandom more used to straightforward action, humour and romance -- but for those who like this kind of thing (like me) it's a minor gem. If it weren't for the too-often poor screenplay, it'd be the kind of thing you might use to persuade the unconverted to give anime a go, but as it is I'm not convinced it'd work.