Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

The obvious answer is that Spanish dubbing is so bad that ripping out your ear drums with a butcher’s hook is kinder to those weird protrusions on the side of your head than subjecting them to The King’s Speech sounding more like Once Upon a Time in Meheeeco.

But that’s not the main reason.

There used to be two mainstream cinema complexes on Tenerife where you could catch the latest-ish movies in their original language; at La Villa in La Orotava and at Gran Sur in Costa Adeje. Each screened one V.O. (version original) a week. Sometimes the movie was good, sometimes it was bobbins.

The one in La Orotava didn’t last long; there’s just not a big enough audience for English language movies in the north of Tenerife.

The south of Tenerife is a different matter. In some municipalities up to 75% of the population are non-Canarios. Not all of these are English speaking, but there’s a massive percentage who are.

And yet every time I’ve been to the Gran Sur Cinema to watch V.O. There has been less than 10 other people in the cinema with me. Doesn’t matter how good the movie is, even the likes of Inception and The Adventures of Tintin didn’t bring in the English speaking crowds.

I just don’t get it. Andy and I think nothing of the 90 minute journey from Puerto de la Cruz to Costa Adeje if the movie warrants it. DVDs are wonderful, but you can’t beat watching BIG movies on the big screen. So, as most ex-pat residents on Tenerife live significantly closer to the cinema, why aren’t audiences bigger? It’s a mystery to me.

The apparent lack of support for the V.O has had me worried that it might be pulled (I say apparent because for all I know, the place is teeming on the days I’m not there).

Sure enough, for the last two weeks the V.O. movie has been absent from Gran Sur. They say that it might be back, but if they don’t re-introduce it I’ll be gutted.

I’ve been a massive fan of the movies since leafing through my mum’s Photoplays when I was knee high to a popcorn seller. I love movies and I especially get a thrill out of seeing them at the cinema.

And because I feel this way about films, I won’t watch dubbed ones.

You might think that as I live in Spain, I should watch movies in Spanish. I do…but only Spanish movies. I also watch French, Chinese, Brazilian, Swedish movies etc…all in their original language (with English subtitles of course).

Movies aren’t just about the visuals – without the performance of the actor, the movie is nothing. And that’s why dubbing is irritating in the extreme.

Dubbing lessens a movie (well maybe not one with Van Damme, Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris). You can’t tell whether a film is good or bad when you’re listening to some wooden performance from a professional dubber. Where’s the richness of voice? Where’s the emotion? Where’s the intonation or the subtlety in the performance? With dubbing you lose all of that…and subsequently you also lose the soul of the movie.

How can people who watch dubbed movies know how good an actor Leo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt is? The answer is that they can’t.

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was on Spanish TV last week. I’d forgotten how delicious Richard Burton’s voice was. Imagine casting those rich vocals aside for some part-timer from Valencia with a voice that grates like nails down a board.

It would simply be a crime.

I’ve just read a review of The King’s Speech that mentioned the Oscar winning movie had been rated ‘R’ in America due to a triumphant chorus of ‘fucks’ emanating from the mouth of Colin Firth’s Prince George. It got me thinking about differing attitudes to swearing and language in general.

There’s a forum I dip in and out of now and again where there are a couple of pseudo-intellectuals who positively abhor the use of swear words (an indication of commonness and a lack of education) and the  decline of grammar in general (people who used txt spk or modern abbreviations like FYI should be taken out the back and shot).

Personally I think this view is a load of old bollocks.

There you go; I’m uneducated and have a limited grasp of the language because I’ve used the term ‘bollocks’. Maybe I should have used ‘tosh and nonsense’ instead (actually I quite like that as well), but I enjoy the sound of ‘a load of old bollocks’ – it’s colourful, descriptive and is fit for purpose.

Similarly, when I’m seriously exasperated by something I’m prone to exclaim ‘for fuck’s sake’ or ‘FFS’ if I’m using the polite version in company – either way I’m apparently committing serious offences against the English language. However, it fits exactly the feeling I want to convey; ‘for heaven’s sake’ ‘for goodness sake’ and ‘for Pete’s sake’ just doesn’t cut the mustard (no offence Pete whoever you are). And if it’s good enough for Prince George then damn it, it’s good enough for me. Plus I’m working class west of Scottish so the urge to profane now and again is simply part and parcel of my genetic make-up.

I don’t use swear words excessively; most of the time those who do make me feel uncomfortable. I say most of the time because there are some people who make swearing sound a very natural and rich part of their vocabulary whilst there are others who simply make it harsh and ugly. The Irish are good at swearing (In Bruges just wouldn’t be anywhere near as funny without the liberal swearing); of course often the Irish replace the ‘U’ with an ‘E’ to make a more socially acceptable Feck. The Scots are pretty good at it (Billy Connolly also not as funny without swearing) and the Mancs also do it well (Shameless). Cockneys I’m less sure about.

I appreciate that many people find swearing offensive and whilst I respect their views, I definitely don’t agree that people who use swear words are defiling the language. Approve of them or not, many are good old fashioned Anglo-Saxon words that have as much a right to be in existence as any other.
There are loads of non-swear words that I find much more offensive and where I wouldn’t swear in the company of people I don’t know, and some that I do, there are plenty of people who happily use their offensive words in front of me…and I’m talking about racist, sexist and homophobic terms here. However, words in themselves aren’t offensive, they’re just a jumble of letters, it’s how people use them that can often dictate whether they’re offensive or not.

I also heartily approve when people – usually the young – take words and turn their meanings on their heads, or invent completely knew terms. It keeps language fresh and interesting, but that doesn’t mean the old words should be packed away never to be used again, it simply means that as time goes by our well of words becomes deeper and deeper.

To me language is a living organism that is constantly evolving – words should be set free and allowed to roam wherever they want to go, not restricted to a dingy cell where they remain staid and static for evermore as some academics would have it.

Some academics, but not modern lexicographers it seems. I was blown away when I watched this clip for the first time (thanks Julie Hume). Erin McKean is simply inspirational and very funny and, amen, I worship at her church. It’s a bit lengthy but anyone interested in the English language should enjoy it…unless they’re like the pseudo-intellectuals I mentioned at the start who no doubt would completely dismiss it because Erin’s American and what the hell do Americans know about English.

Anyway, back to the swearing. The King’s Speech being designated an ‘R’ rating because of swearing rankled. You can blow people to smithereens in any manner of glamorously gruesome ways and that’s absolutely socially acceptable but a stammering Prince swearing is deigned too much for anyone under 17 to be able to handle. Doesn’t that strike you as being worryingly skewed logic?

It reminded me of a story about a B52 aircrew who were told to remove the word ‘fuck’ from the fuselage of their bombers because it was far too offensive.

Think about the irony of that little gem.

Watching this Movie is Dangerous

Watching this Movie is Dangerous

You’re going to think this is ridiculous, but we both were in serious danger of drowning as we watched the movie ‘Poseidon’ last Friday night.

We hadn’t planned on watching Poseidon, in fact it was supposed to be Woody Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’, but the 100s of copies on display in Al Campo the previous week had mysteriously disappeared. I don’t think they were sold out. For a start they were in the ‘cheap section’ (€4.99) because, if Spanish TV is anything to go by, the general Spanish public seem to prefer a diet of Steven Seagal, Jacky Chan and, for some bizarre reason, Ashley Judd films. You can almost bet that there’ll be one of their movies on every week on the main Spanish channels. So ironically, good movies end up in the cheap section, whilst the trash stay at full price (works for me).

Anyway, ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ was a bust, so I settled on Poseidon. Okay, it was a complete change of genre, but Empire movie mag (which I trust completely) had awarded it 4 stars out of a maximum 5. Sure it wasn’t going stick in the mind long after the final credits had rolled, but a thrilling piece of escapism every now and again is part of what movies are all about.

As Empire had promised it was an exciting, fast moving film with more than its fair share of tense moments as characters (a still square-jawed Kurt Russell and a gay Richard Dreyfuss amongst them) battled against overwhelming odds and an ever-rising ocean inside an upturned cruise liner coffin.
Part of their attempts to escape a watery grave involved swimming for long stretches under water to find ways to move onwards and upwards. These nerve-jangling scenes prompted a discussion between Andy and I about how we’d fare if we were unfortunate enough to find ourselves in a similar predicament.
One thing led to another and before we knew it we were both holding our breath with the characters as they blindly swam through a murky underwater corridor and into dead end after dead end.

I’m sorry to announce, we were those guys who didn’t make it. Tragically we drowned a few feet before our heroes finally discovered a hole leading to life giving fresh air.

Clearly we didn’t really drown, but I can tell you it felt as though it had been a close thing as we sat on our sofas red faced and gulping in huge breaths of air.

The thought really tickled me though. What would investigators have made of finding two drowned corpses in their own living room with Poseidon playing on the DVD – freakily realistic special effects or what?

After writing the post about the haunted hotel on Bute, I stumbled across a great blog by a writer currently experiencing life on the island who described the hotel’s commanding location overlooking Rothesay perfectly.

“…it looks down over the harbor like a Grand Dame, watchful and enticing and dangerously tilted and slightly reproachful.”

It was great to see a picture of the ‘Grand Dame’ again and it jaunted my memory about my last ever day working at the Glenburn. I’m not sure I should share it as it makes the list of ‘embarrassing moments in my life’ (not a short list I have to say) but what the hell, it’s also an example of how conscientious a worker I am.

I’d moved from being a night porter to the less scary position of day porter and one of my more entertaining duties was as ‘projectionist’. Rothesay was ‘in between’ cinemas at that time and the only way to see movies on anything like a big screen was in the ballroom of the Glenburn Hotel on a Sunday night.

My training involved five minutes with the projector and a couple of bits of information that I’d remembered from an episode of Columbo (who says TV isn’t educational). Basically all I had to do was start the movie and wait until a white circle appeared on screen warning me that a reel was about to end then immediately switch to the second reel when it flashed for a second time. There were usually three reels per movie, so that meant I had to concentrate only twice during any screening…easy job.

Unfortunately I was on a split shift on my last day; something like 12-3pm and 6-11pm. I say unfortunately because this meant that I was able to start my leaving party in between shifts and spent the afternoon downing pints in the Paddleboat disco below the hotel. Whilst I wasn’t exactly falling about by the time I came back on shift, neither was I stone cold sober.

Of course it was film night. I remember the movie well; it was ‘The Player’ with Ali McGraw. It’s an awful movie; if the word boring hadn’t already been invented that movie would have been its inspiration. Despite this, in movie-starved Rothesay we had a full house.

I managed to pull myself together to set up the projector and started the movie running from behind the two screens which separated me from the punters and acted as my projectionist booth. Even in my slightly inebriated state I was able to change from the first to the second reel seamlessly.

The problems began as the second reel headed towards its conclusion and the volume of lager in my system decided it wanted to escape and NOW.  I knew I was minutes away from changeover, but the liquid pressed and bullied my internal dam, reluctant to wait even a few seconds.

I weighed up the options. The toilets were yards away, just outside the ballroom doors. I could be there and back again within a couple of minutes. Only trouble was from the amount of film left on the reel, the changeover could have been in 30 seconds, or four minutes. The idea of returning from the loo to a blank screen and grumbling movie goers didn’t appeal, so I decide to hold on as best I could.

Behind the screens as the seconds stretched into minutes I danced a silent routine which made the Ministry of Silly Walks seem sensible in my bid to repel the rising tide, but that damned white circle refused to appear. Time slowed to an interminable crawl and I realised I’d completely misjudged the timings, but now I’d left it too late. If I made a dash for the toilets, the reel was definitely going to change so I took the only option left…I peed my pants.

Okay, it’s disgusting I know, especially as I was wearing white jeans on which the spreading dark stain might as well have been a neon sign, but in my defence I only had the satisfaction of the audience at heart. How could I save myself and sacrifice their enjoyment of the movie? (that might be a bit more believable if it had been anything other than The Player)

Of course almost as soon as my defences gave way, the white circle flashed mockingly on screen and I was finally able to switch over to the last reel and discreetly leave the ballroom and squelch my way to the toilets.

Luckily there was an electric hand dryer in the loos;  I splashed water on my jeans then put both hands on the dryer and tried as best as I could to get my crotch as close to its warm stream of air as possible. I hung from the machine, praying that no one would enter and find me in what looked like a perverse sexual act with a hand dryer…luckily they didn’t and five minutes later I was able to return to my position behind the projector with spotlessly dry trousers as if the whole shameful incident had never happened. I was even able to resume my partying in the Paddleboat afterwards with all my friends amongst the chefs, waiters, waitresses and receptionists oblivious to my ‘unclean’ state.

If there’s anyone out there who happened to be in the Glenburn watching The Player that night, I can assure you that there was a hell of a lot more drama going on at the back of the room than on the movie screen at the front.

You’ve got to admire my commitment to duty though, haven’t you…haven’t you?

In the past I’ve had to sneak up unseen on a highly trained marine sniper who was looking for me, so avoiding some Tinerfeño security guards to take some photos of the Clash of the Titans set on Tenerife wasn’t really in the same league.

The seat of the gods

The seat of the gods

To be honest at the time I wasn’t actually aware I was sneaking up on anything, otherwise I’d have gone the whole hog and ‘cam’d up’ to blend in with the scenery in the Mount Teide crater. I merely parked the car, grabbed my camera and wandered across the volcanic landscape to get a better view of the row of seated gods who looked as though they’d actually been there since the time of Perseus and his cronies.

Admittedly the route I chose did take me away from the scene and into a dip which probably hid me from prying eyes until I emerged on an outcrop overlooking the main set. I was well outside the taped off ‘forbidden zone’ and didn’t think there was a problem until a piercing whistle shattered the silence and a figure in a bright yellow jacket on a rock opposite started waving furiously at me. I waved back and headed back to the road where another security guard was chatting with three Spanish tourists who, after a few seconds, wandered away from the guard and closer to the set. I was baffled. Why were they allowed close to the set and I wasn’t? Okay, I had a chuffin’ big camera around my neck, but hey they had mobile phones and guess what you can do with them?

The scenery is transformed

The scenery is transformed

I decided to check out with the guard what I could and couldn’t do.

“How close can I get to take photos?”
I asked him.
“You can’t take photos,” he replied.
“Not even from here? This is the road…it’s open to the public.” We were heading into Tenerife silly buggers territory.
He shrugged his shoulders, clearly confused. Luckily someone from the set was passing by; the guard asked him the same question.
“It doesn’t matter,” the set worker really couldn’t have cared less. “Everyone can see the set from the road anyway.”

I left the guard who was suddenly unsure of his remit and followed the three Spanish tourists. On one side of me Grecian pillars were strewn about the volcanic landscape and on the other, the semi circle of gods loomed closer. This was the main part of this particular Clash of the Titans set and where, in a couple of week’s time, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes would be deciding Persius’ fate.

The almost finished main set

The almost finished main set

They’ve done a wonderful job on the set; the colours match the surrounding scenery perfectly. The various ancient Greek props strewn about look as they belong; like part of an abandoned archaeological dig. All that was missing were heroic warriors, the odd god and a mythical monster or two to complete the scene.

I took some more photos until I was told to not take any photos by another guard who’d been distracted by the three Spanish tourists – clearly multi-tasking wasn’t his forte, but I was done by then anyway.

I’m not sure what the purpose of stopping people taking pictures is. The set is clearly visible from the road, so it’s not as though it’s a secret or anything and the people who were actually working on the set weren’t bothered about it; a couple spoke to me quite openly about what was going on. Sometimes on Tenerife there can be a strange attitude to publicity as though it’s something to be feared which can be a tad counter productive when tourism is the bread, butter, lunch and evening meal of your economy.

It’s my view that publishing photos of the set will help raise the interest and the excitement factor that should come with a major movie like Clash of the Titans being made on Tenerife and that can’t be a bad thing for the promotion of the island.

So I hope you appreciate me risking life and limb (or at least being told off by a few security guards) to bring you these shots.

Life on Mars - well parts of Tenerife are other worldly

Life on Mars - well parts of Tenerife are other worldly

There was a moment last week when I wondered if the real me was lying in a coma somewhere and my subconscious had travelled back in time to nineteen seventy something.

The blackboard menu offered chilli, curry half and half and probably gammon steaks with a pineapple ring on top. The waitress had just served sandwiches with their crusts cut off stacked up toblerone shaped on a plate with no trimmings, Last of the Summer Wine was on the telly and ‘Paperback Writer’ was blaring out of the pub next door. I’d just been telling my sister’s new boyfriend about the local goat’s cheese being delicious especially if you drizzle some ‘miel de palma’ over it and as I waxed lyrical about it being a taste sensation, I suddenly saw Gene Hunt sitting across from me with an expression which said ‘what a nancy boy woofter’. My sister’s boyfriend hails from my home town of Rothesay; a place where, if you’re a bloke you don’t drink wine or eat…well anything (real men don’t eat they just drink).

It was a surreal moment especially as everything around me; the sounds, the smells, the accents, were unmistakeably British. There wasn’t the slightest trace of Tenerife to be seen. There was nothing particularly offensive about it; everything was pleasant enough (actually that’s a lie, the food was blandly awful), it just didn’t feel like the Tenerife I knew; it didn’t even feel like the Britain that I knew from 2003; it felt like Britain circa 1975.

Maybe DI Sam Tyler in Life on Mars and then DI Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes didn’t actually come round in 1973, or 1981; maybe they both just woke up in that particular corner of Tenerife.

A retro treat for the mouth

A retro treat for the mouth

Yesterday at the Correos we collected a Christmas pressie from my sister. A bit late you might think, but as we unwrapped the goodies she’d sent us, it soon became clear that it was quite appropriate receiving a parcel when Christmas was long gone as the treasure trove of goodies inside were themselves a blast from the past.

Okay, Mamma Mia – the Movie is new, but clearly the songs within aren’t. Along with the DVD was a straw basket full of rainbow coloured retro sweets (parma violets, blackjacks, flying saucers, lovehearts, sherbet dips…etc see how many you can spot in the piccie) which caused great excitement between myself and Andy (and will probably lead to a lot of squabbling over who gets what later on).

Fandabbydosey (I can’t believe I’ve just written that – see what a retro parcel can do to you) so far, but the belated birthday present which came with the Xmas pressies was the real showstopper.

From a long time ago, in a galaxy far away

From a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away

It was a framed drawing of a caricature of me which, for nearly 30 years, had hung in a pub which I was never out of during my formative years.

Back in the early 80s a Canadian girl was on Bute (where I hail from) working on a feature for National Geographic. She spent some of her free time hanging out in the Struan Bar, where my mates and I spent most nights drinking far too much lager and impersonating Minnesota Fats. In exchange for free ale, she offered to draw caricatures of all the locals. A smart arrangement on her part as it kept her in beer for most of the summer.
By the time she was finished; one of the bar’s walls was completely filled with drawings of a motley collection of characters – aka the pub’s clientele.

I’d forgotten about the drawing until I unwrapped it. I’ve never though that it looked particularly like me…far more prominent jaw line than I’ve ever had, but it was possibly quite the most surprising and personal present I’ve ever received and I was completely blown away by it. God knows how my nephew, Ross got hold of it (he did explain it in a poem, but I’m not sure what was beer fuelled fantasy and what was real), but it’s a wonderful memento to own and I’ll treasure it.

So last night was spent munching on flying saucers and beaming our way through Meryl and Pierce belting out tunes I hadn’t heard for years whilst an 18 year old version of myself looked down on us from its position on the wine island.

It was an unexpected trip to retroland and I have to say that it was a most pleasurable journey and as for Mamma Mia – I’m still smiling. Sometimes you can’t beat just simple feelgood fun.