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Coast: Dover to Exmouth (2005)
Like being forced to watch a geography teacher's holiday snaps
One of those TV programmes which clearly divides audiences. Those who like it seem entranced by the undeniably excellent photography. Here my opinion sharply divides from others.
I watched the first episode of this series and was deeply unimpressed. There seems to be no coherent ideas linking this programme other than the pretty pictures. The programme was by turns didactic and superficial. The presenter spent an enormous amount of time looking at WW2 advanced air warning systems and had lots of pretty shots of aircraft swooping in and being detected. The programme them jumped onto another bandwagon further along the coast and treated this subject with the same superficial approach. There could have been a worthwhile documentary here about the development of technologies and how such ideas are finessed but abandoned by new developments - nothing of the sort emerged.
The programme shows all the signs of shoot-first-write-script-afterward approach - unfortunately what we are left with is a sense that any one of the objects the camera was pointed-at should have been treated to a minimum one hour documentary by someone more knowledgeable and able to articulate the ideas behind the subject.
The presenter's 'enthusiasm' was, frankly, wearing. Constantly being addressed as a class of nine years olds grates even with nine year olds. I can see this man eventually becoming a weather presenter/personality and giving us such imbecilic advice as to "wrap up warm" because it's going to be cold.
Areas of the south coast which I know well were the subject of the same hackneyed approaches, and others inexplicably missed completely. The programme showed no original thought, linking themes, or even sense of direction (pun intended).
In short, endless repetition of the superficial. Expensive photography does not of itself make good TV. Television is capable of much more than this - compare Jonathan Meades essay on Portsmouth Dockyard.
Sad Old Men Raking Over The Ashes...
More and more DVDs are packaged with studio-sponsored promo materials shamelessly parading themselves as documentaries.
Usually this nausea-inducing drivel is full of luvvies telling you the great difficulties they face in getting-up in the morning to have make-up put on their face before doing what most sane people would regard as half a day's work.
Alternatively, these promos are full of saddoes sitting around singing the praises of people they self-evidently hate - such is Hollywood.
Most such stuff should never see the light of day let alone be re-packaged and sold to the unsuspecting. Holy Grail Locations fortunately doesn't come into this category.
Micahel Palin, Terry Jones and others make a credible documentary re-visiting the shooting locations for Holy Grail, whilst reminiscing about the film and its low budget (lots of interesting shots of Doune Castle intercut with shots from the movie, and showing how the sets were re-dressed several times over).
This documentary film will be of interest to those who liked Holy Grail as well as anyone planning on making a memorable movie on the cheap.
I was particularly impressed with the actor who played Hamish McInnes - this man clearly should go far. One criticism - the Julian Doyle part was mis-cast I felt this called for a much younger fellow.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Didactic and overlong
Another one of those overlong morally right-on movies that never rises above average - saved only by the acting.
Its bleeding-heart politics 'dignity of individual maintained in adverse conditions' is played-out well enough but actually lacks any real dramatic tension.
Dufrane is a two-dimensional character who seems to go through the drama by numbers - there's never any doubt that he will triumph in the end, it's only a matter of how.
Tim Robbins has done many more interesting films than this one - try The Player or Bob Roberts if you're looking for drama/moral ambivalence and how they interact.
Basically, there are a lot better prison films than this one - Jailhouse Rock for starters.
Like most Stephen King stories - quite prosaic. There was a story in here somewhere but it got over-inflated and somewhat lost along the way.
One to watch on a rainy day when there's nothing better to do.