The Null Device
More on the explosion in product placement in television shows, brought about by advertisers' concern that consumers may be skipping ads:
In a recent episode of the NBC series Medium, writers had to work the movie Memoirs of a Geisha into the dialogue three times because of a deal the network made with Sony earlier in the season. They even had the characters go on a date to an early screening of the movie and bump into friends who had just viewed Geisha to tell them how good it was.
Another product placement intruded a touching scene on ABC's soap opera, All My Children, when writers were forced to incorporate a line about a new Wal-Mart perfume into the dialogue as a character, Greenlee, sat at the bedside of her husband who was suffering from a fatal gunshot wound.
Italian Prime Minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has made statements defending a footballer, facing criticism for using the Fascist salute as "a bit of a show-off". That, in itself, is not particularly shocking for a conservative politician; however, he followed it up with a defense of the legitimacy of Fascism:
"Fascism in Italy was never a criminal doctrine. There were the racial laws, horrible, but because one wanted to win the war with Hitler," Mr Berlusconi told foreign journalists.Of course, given that Berlusconi has near-total control of Italy's television (owning the largest private TV network and controlling state-run TV, which, presumably, is not funded by a BBC-style license fee), he stands a chance of getting away with it and winning the next election (which he is confidently boasting that he will).
I finally got around to watching the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie.
For the most part, I enjoyed it. The new parts of the script, in many places did seem rather Douglas Adamsesque. The visual design and effects also worked rather nicely, giving the whole film a slightly cartoonish, Monty Pythonesque look. For the most part, the obvious concessions to the Hollywood story (the vogons becoming the main bad guys, as a film needs a villain, for example) were relatively unobstrusive, and the casting was quite apt. Except for two glaring flaws.
Firstly, the character of Trillian. In the books and other material, she was somewhat intelligent and rounded as a character. In the film, she is a vacuous bimbo; a shiny American-TV-show female character who looks and behaves as if she should have canned laughter after each of her one-liners, and, in actual personality, is little more than a plot device.
Which brings me to the second flaw: the way that Arthur's history with Trillian was fleshed out into a standard Hollywood romcom plotline, complete with schmaltzy dialogue (the scene about "the real answer" was cringeworthy), undoubtedly at the behest of some studio bean-counter insistent on following proven formulas to maximise audience appeal. I think the DVD should have come with an option to view a cut with the studio hacks' commercially-driven additions edited out (much like the Criterion box set of Brazil).
All in all, if one cauterises those memories from one's brain Zaphod-fashion, the film is quite enjoyable. I enjoyed it more than Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the other (and weaker) cool-stylised-pictures film of this year.