Monday, 28 December 2009


There's a movie I've wanted to see for some time. It's had good reveiws. It didn't make general release in the UK, at least not up here in Hicksville, so I hoped I might catch it when I was over in the US. But I missed it there, too.
So I was pleased to see that Santa did the business this year and left me the DVD. I wanted to watch it straight away, but we had all that annoying Christmas stuff getting in the way and I had to do family stuff first. Yesterday evening, though, I got my chance. I was nervous. Maybe Moon wouldn't be as good as people had said. Maybe there was a very good reason for the film's virtual invisibility in British cinemas.
Well, I needn't have worried. Moon is the real deal - a proper SF movie. There are very few. (2001, Dark Star, er... struggling now) It seems that as soon as any kind of FX budget comes along the producers and directors get carried away with the moment and forget to hire writers. Not so with Moon. It has story. It has depth. It has atmosphere. I won't throw out any spoilers, because I hate it when that happens. Moon is a terrific film - go out and buy the DVD, because I'm not lending my copy to anyone.
But isn't it a shame there are so few movies like this. It's not as if there's a shortage of writing and film-making talent out there. I went to see 2012 last week - the special effects are fabulous, but the story - Oh dear! Why do they do that? Why do they spend so much money and ignore the script?
Which leads me to Avatar. I'm going to see it next week. I feel sure that I'll hate it. I just have that sinking feeling. I don't want to hate it, I want to love it. I want to relive that jaw-hanging moment I felt when I saw the first Star Wars movie, with that big space ship that flies over, followed by one that's even bigger - and keeps on getting bigger. I'd never seen anything like it. I know it was Space Opera but who cares when it's done like that - it was a Cinema Moment. They are very rare.
Moon wasn't a Cinema Moment (especially since it didn't make the cinema round here) but it is a good film, no - it is a Great film.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

On the Demise of Borders

There has been a certain amount of glee from some quarters (Rachel Cooke, The Observer) at the news that Borders have gone into administration. It is not a feeling I share. I agree with Ms Cooke that we need more independent bookshops – why not – but where I differ is in her optimistic view that Borders' departure will open the door to new start-ups in the indy book selling arena. The way I see it – if a giant like Borders cannot survive the onslaught of recession and Amazon combined, then there is nothing down for anybody.

I like Borders. For me they will be a sad loss. Maybe in London there is enough choice amongst bookshops to allow the luxury of being able to choose between book-shelf aesthetics, but up here in the cultural desert of The Wirral, where libraries close, the loss of any bookshop is cause for enormous regret. Borders, though - the only place on Merseyside where you can go for a coffee later than five-thirty pm; the only place where copies of Asimovs, Locus, Analog, Interzone et al can be browsed and bought at will, this is a sad loss indeed. Now, if I want a copy of a sci-fi mag I'll have to take out a year's subscription. And if an Indy shop does come along, will they stock these magazines? Will they open outside of the regular 9 till 5 zone? (which are, incidently, the same hours as my day job) I doubt it. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm thinking the days of browsing in book shops are nearly over, at least in this part of the world. Not a cause for celebration.