Pitch battle

It’s often said, if you’re a would-be movie-maker, you need an elevator pitch ready for deployment, just in case, in the classic eponymous example, you happen to find yourself sharing an elevator with a big-time movie producer. The idea is, you should be able to pitch the concept of your movie to your captive audience before the elevator doors open.

It’s claimed the elevator pitch for Aardman Films’ Chicken Run was ‘The Great Escape with chickens’. Sold!

I suppose the elevator pitch for Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan would have been something along the lines of ‘A submarine movie in space’. And Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’s elevator pitch would have been something like ‘A submarine movie on sailing ships’. And Duel’s elevator pitch would have been ‘A submarine movie with a lorry and a car’. (It’s an established fact that there is no such thing as a bad submarine movie.)

Jen and I watched Thor Ragnarok last weekend. I’m not a fan of the previous Thor films, but this one was entertaining enough, and didn’t totally disappear up its own mythology.

Then I got to thinking, how would I have pitched Thor Ranarok to a big-time movie mogul? What’s the one thing that would make anyone want to go and see the film?

And then I realised the answer was a total no-brainier…

Cate Blanchett with antlers

Thor Ragnarok: ‘Cate Blanchett with antlers!’

What’s not to like?

Beam me up, Luke!

In preparation for Star Trek Beyond screening at Hebden Bridge Picture House tomorrow, Jen and I are re-watching the two previous films in the relaunched franchise. And great fun they are too. In amongst episodes of The West Wing, we also recently re-watched the original Star Wars trilogy.

The problem is, Jen keeps getting Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up in her head. “Is this the one with Benedict Cumberbatch as a baddie?” she asked at the start of The Empire Strikes Back. “Have they just gone to warp speed?” she enquired, as the Millennium Falcon finally shot off at light speed. And so on.

To be honest, I'm not entirely convinced Jen is really getting the two franchises mixed-up. I more than half-suspect she's trying to play Jedi mind-melds on me.


The Billy Bragg Temporal Paradox

It's like something out of StarTrek™:

Billy Bragg: New England

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song
I'm twenty-two now, but I won't be for long…

Read those lyrics again. Go on, I'll wait for you…

Did you spot the temporal paradox? Billy Bragg says that he was 21 years old when he wrote the song, but that he's 22 now. But, when he wrote the song, 'now' was back then, when he was still 21—so how could he have been 22? And, if he was still 21 when he wrote the song, why did he refer to it in the past tense?

It's as if the 22-year-old future Red Wedge crooner totally fucked up the timeline by getting sucked into some wormhole in space and sent back one year so that there were two of him, aged 21 and 22 respectively, at the same time.

That has got to be breaking the Temporal Prime Directive.

Either that, or Billy Bragg is a bloody liar.

See also:

British icon, Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking weightlessThis must surely be one of the most uplifting (no pun intended) images of recent years: Stephen Hawking free from his wheelchair and free (in his frame of reference at least) from the effects of the force that has so intrigued him over the years: gravity. The apple was a nice touch too: I'm sure he appreciated it.


Now I know it's wrong to think of a person as being defined by their disability, but in Hawking's case, you have to admit, it's very hard not to. Yes, he's a talented physicist who has come up with one or two nifty ideas—I'll never forget first reading about Hawking Radiation in A Brief History of Time and thinking, "Wow! That's pretty obvious! How come nobody else thought of that?"—but can you honestly tell me you would ever have heard of the chap if he hadn't been confined to a wheelchair and speaking through a voice synthesiser? Me neither. Let's face it, he didn't get trundle-on parts on both StarTrek the Next Generation and The Simpsons because of his physics; he got them because of his wheelchair, his voice and his physics. It's the three things combined that make him into a great British icon.

…Which is why I kind of wish they'd taken a photo or two of him weightless while still in the wheelchair.

Yes, I realise the whole point of the exercise was to let Hawking escape his wheelchair for a few precious moments, but can you imagine the impact of a photograph of the iconic Hawking apparently defying gravity in his wheelchair? The juxtaposition of what science can achieve (make a wheelchair-bound man float in the air) and what it cannot yet achieve (make that wheelchair-bound man better) would be incredibly poignant. It would become, along with the iconic photos of Aldrin on the Moon and Einstein sticking out his tongue, one of the great images of science.

And then there's that voice: doesn't Hawking's trademark, computerised, American accent seem a bit incongruous in someone who is supposed to be a British icon? Engineers at Sheffield University have developed a voice synthesiser based on the voice of Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan. Shouldn't they upgrade Hawking and give him a Barnsley accent? Of course not (although it would be one hell of a hack): Hawking's strange, impersonal, slightly robotic accent help make him less of a national icon and more of a world icon.

A bit like Nelson Mandella.