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December 12, 2006

Mark Lawson interviews Stephen King

Stephen King is doing the rounds with his new novel, and has recently been in the UK. This is a fairly unusual occurrence as far as I know. The BBC managed to get hold of him, and Mark Lawson did an interview which I saw last night and is repeated a couple of times at odd hours this week.

I thought I liked Lawson, having heard his show on Radio4 many times; he's pretty smart and covers a lot of ground. I am a huge Stephen King fan, and have never heard him speak before, never mind watched an interview, so was looking forward to it immensely.

Unfortunately, Lawson made a bit of a pig's ear of the interview, and it was only saved by King himself being a very friendly and accommodating guest. Lawson had a script of questions prepared, and every time an answer veered off into a different path, he ferociously brought it back on track. Interviewing isn't just about asking questions, it's about listening to the answers too. Sometimes you'll need to follow up a surprise answer to get to a more interesting place. King tried to take Lawson to other areas, he made jokes about something scary being behind his host, but Lawson couldn't even manage a smile and ploughed on regardless. When King asked Lawson why he'd asked a particular question, the only answer he could come up with was "because I wanted to know".

I have a feeling this was a wasted opportunity. Yes, we found out some facts about Kings early life and his struggle for acceptance, but the whole thing was done on a very clinical level, with no warmth or empathy. He even wound it up abruptly - was it live, against the clock?

Lawson looks like he is part of the literature establishment that doesn't appreciate populist fiction, the very people King is actively at war with, and I think he knows it. This should have been a job for Jonathan Ross.

Posted by se71 at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2006


Lightning McQueen (a red car) plays the part of Michael J. Fox in what looks to me very much like an animated remake of the the old romantic comedy Doc Hollywood - but it's not anywhere near as charming or funny.

McQueen is a talking car, all speaking parts in this film are cars and trucks. He is very arrogant, don't forget that. On a trip across America for a very important race, he gets lost and winds up in a backwater town. He accidently ploughs up the main street, and is sentenced by a judge to stay there until he has fixed it.

While in town, he gets to know the characters who live there, and gradually loses his bad manners and becomes a more rounded individual - falling in love with a beautiful Porsche.

On the surface, it's a normal plot, and it should work as a film. But in the beginning McQueen is just too annoying, and it takes him far too long to get any better. By the time he has found his conscience, you don't really care any more.

The animation is to a very high standard, and some of the natural scenes look just like video, but who cares if there aren't any good jokes. Maybe I was expecting too much, and kids definitely like it, but it's not a film that is for adults too (like Toy Story, or The Incredibles), which is a shame.

Posted by se71 at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)