Talking Movies

January 19, 2020

Any Other Business: Part XLII

As the title suggests, so forth.

Alas, poor Dave

It was upsetting at the end of Rick Stein’s Secret France recently to discover that Stein’s long-time director/producer David Pritchard had died during the making of their latest entertaining exercise in being galloping gourmands. His off-camera snarks; the black risotto that made Stein’s lips oddly alluring; his occasional in-camera appearances beside Stein to question him about some dish; the beef that was too dry; or chivvy him about his choice of locale; Berlin in winter, just, why?; his resolute stick-in-the-mud approach to exotic cuisine; must the mole ruin the chicken by having chocolate sauce; all these made him a sort of stand-in for the audience, more likely to join the crew in longing for fish and chips than join Rick in fermented shark followed by blasting the taste out of consciousness with a shot of nigh-lethal potato vodka. From Venice to Istanbul, Road to Mexico, and Long Weekends were favourites of my Dad and they will continue to be re-run because they are so delightful. Thanks, Dave.

July 14, 2018

The Drone Aesthetic: Part II

I recently saw the effective double-bill of ‘The Bad Place’ and ‘Wayward Sisters’ episodes of Supernatural season 13 and think it’s time to revisit the idea of the Drone Aesthetic.

September 2nd 2016 saw me musing on the unusually expansive quality of aerial photography in three BBC documentaries. Simon Reeve showed off his drone with shots that started near him and then wheeled away to reveal the mountainous quality of the Greek landscape. Brian Cox was observed from a height walking English beaches and Icelandic glaciers, and he also deployed the drone for the same effect as Reeve: the camera suddenly tumbling back in space, revealing itself as airborne and the person standing near a cliff edge. Peter Barton explained the Battle of the Somme using a drone to seamlessly move from a trench view to an aerial vantage point of the battlefield; revealing obvious differences in height over the wider landscape which, while invisible from a trench, was consistently put to work by the Germans in their defensive strategy.

It seems something of an arms race then developed in the BBC as both Rick Stein and Michael Portillo’s various travelogues were granted their own drones. Soon Stein and Portillo were mooching around Europe and North America by plane, train, and automobile, accompanied by a faithful drone to show they could walk along a beach observed from a height just as well as that young whippersnapper Cox. But they were less given to the ostentation of what we might call the Reeve Effect. There were a sight less sudden pull-outs by the drone to reveal its airborne status. Instead the focus was on shots by the drone serenely observing cityscapes or flying gently over rising hills. By an odd coincidence just 10 days after I wrote about the Drone Aesthetic I saw Don’t Breathe, which begins with a drone shot.

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