Friday, January 20, 2006

Poliakoff's Friends and Crocodiles

The Newsnight Review of Friends Crocodiles seemed to confirm the endless, irritating trailers in the weeks leading up to its first showing. I kept saying to myself , If you play that promo one more time, I won't watch the bloody film. But as a fan of Shooting the Past, I had a duty to watch just in case. Twenty minutes in, I was grumbling and moaning "Hurry up, hurry up", though I knew he liked to take his time. I would if I could get to film something of my own. I see interminable arty sequences of man on windswept beach walking and looking in almost anything I have roughed out, including repeat sequences with different music overlays.

The next few days there seemed to be no online reviews to speak of. This weblog:

Viciously Mazinpaned Janina

and E-mag

The First Post
"With friends and crocodiles like these"

Poliakoff’s sweeping BBC drama recycles hackneyed cliches, argues James Bartholomew are todays offerings.

I feel a bit more confident in setting off on my journey through this and to some purpose: learning how to write a good script by studying how someone else ballses-up his.

It was cinematographically good. Poliakoff always does good looking films. The script should have been thrown away. He appears to have finally achieved here what Potter did with his disasterous attempts at writing and directing.

Friends and Crocodiles could have been a good long radio play. Even crocodiles would have worked on radio with sn eccentric dialogue about going up the Amazon to find an undiscovered fruit for a new exciting Brazilian style drink. I actually knew someone who went on an expedition to do just that. One thinks of Anita Roddick rushing round the world to check for new ingredients for her massively over-priced unguents.

The Crocodile, done well, could have been one of the most effective "ideas" in the film.

The crocodile ....represented the secret of how to survive against the odds, having beaten extinction when the dinosaurs died.

Well. Paul said something about antidotes for smake venom if I am not much mistaken, which goes more with the Amazonian fruit/ new species/ entrepreneur bit. If it is meant to represent both the old and the new way of thinking at the same time, its even more clever. Paul also enthuses abot how the crocodile (a relic) has survived un-evolved for milions of years. So what is it about? Script. Bin.


This was the age of the neuvo-entrepreneur. But think more Felix Dennis. Or, though he this was the 60s/70s, Michael Hestletine buying a Bayswater hotel (or wherever) with an inheritance and ending up with a small publishing empire. You suddenly realise that's what someone else would have done: used news footage. He was stuck with clunky telegraphing, though
Nina at Vicious Pastry Maker (sorry Nina!) says:

Friends and Crocodiles did hang together, very very well. It was a smooth and incisive piece of work that was never heavy handed as some people accuse Poliakoff of being heavy-handed.
I couldn't disagree less.

The thing about film, is to show not say. Was Poliakoff's screenplay too long for the 1 1/2 hour slot, so he had to drastically prune? What other explanation can there be for the inexcrable telegraphing which went on all the way through? Typewriters, typewriters, typewriters, yeah, yeah, yeah. Computer: Thing of the future. Email! Very useful. Run a business without ever seeing each other...


Anyone who thinks in film, as I do, knows it is impossible not to do homage - its one of the best things about film - Lizzie carrrying a typewriter to work. But what made Poliakoff think having a typing-pool in a small town estate agent made and sense. I kept on thinking of a some modern film adaptation of some Kafka or other.


When is a piss take a satire? When you are not confident in your ability to convey satire.

Who in his right mind would script someone saying "He's like Gatsby!" You've read the book and seen the film twice. Paul is no Gatsby. He never could be a Gatsby. In any case once said, one is going to be disappointed with the new version, no matter how clever the script or cinematography. Unless that is his point. By getting one of his characters to say it, one is going to fight while watching on with the notion he is just trying to annoy you and disrupt his own film. Who knows.Big red bus. Summer Holiday starring Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin and the Shadows and Una Stubbs.

Let's borrow the dictionary:


1. (a) A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision or wit.

2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice or stupidity.

caricature, burlesque, parody, travesty, satire, lampoon

These nouns denote artistic forms in which someone or something is imitated in an amusing and generally critical manner.

A caricature grossly exaggerates a distinctive or striking feature with intent to ridicule: drew a caricature of the politician.

which usually denotes a dramatic work, suggests outlandish mimicry and broad comedy to provoke laughter: a burlesque playing at the theater.

Parody, travesty, and satire generally apply to written works.

Parody employs the manner and style of a well-known work or writer for a ludicrous effect: wrote a parody of the famous novel.

A travesty is a harshly distorted imitation: a travesty of morality.

usually involves ridiculing follies and vices: employs satire in her poetry. A lampoon is a malicious but broadly humorous satire: a lampoon authored by a standup comic.
Word History
The history of the word caricature takes us back through the centuries to a time when the Romans occupied Gaul, offering the blessings of civilization to the Gauls but also borrowing from them as well. One such borrowing, the Gaulish word *karros, meaning “a wagon or cart,” became Latin carrus, “a Gallic type of wagon.” This Latin word has continued to roll through the English language, giving us car, career, cargo, carry, and charge, among others. Caricature, another offspring of carrus, came to us via French from Italian, in which caricatura, the source of the French word, was derived from Italian caricare, “to load, burden, or exaggerate.” Caricare in turn came from Late Latin carricre, “to load,” derived from the Romans' Gaulish borrowing carrus.


At Dadblog another view.

Ian Wylie at Manchester online runs with :
Crying crocodile tears for the '80s.

"It's about work, ambition, aspiration, respect, self-esteem, which are all things that motivate us as much as, if not more than, sexual love," explains the man behind The Lost Prince and Shooting The Past.


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