Friday, June 24, 2011

Duranalysis: Arcadia’s Goodbye is Forever

Sometimes it’s all about Nick.

My apologies in advance to Simon, who is doomed to get a little shortchanged in the praise department this time around. I’d feel worse about that, but I’ve already given him plenty of tongue baths -- strictly in the metaphorical sense, alas -- in earlier reviews. Simon does a fine job here, but really, Arcadia’s video for “Goodbye is Forever” belongs to the lovely and strange Mr. Rhodes.

The original plan was to give this one a pass and wrap up this whole Duranalysis business this week with “Girls on Film.” Because the Duran Duran universe is a never-ending rabbit hole and because time is finite, I’d intended to stick to the videos produced in their Golden Age (1981-1985) and, with the exception of Arcadia’s “The Flame,” which is far too much fun to ignore, skip over all the later albums and side projects. Then someone suggested I tackle this one, which turned out to be a great idea. There's nothing quite like a whopping dose of pure, uncut, pharmaceutical-grade Nick.

Nick, as I’ve mentioned before, is magical.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Duranalysis: Planet Earth

Here we are, back where it all began. “Planet Earth” was Duran Duran’s very first video from their very first single off of their 1981 debut album. It also marked the beginning of their long and successful collaboration with director Russell Mulcahy. While less ambitious than their expensive, expansive later efforts (no cavorting on yachts, no exotic locales), it does a solid job of introducing the band to the world. It’s slick and fun. Somehow, though, the process of analyzing it here -- watching it multiple times, searching for fun facts about it, grabbing screenshots -- has left me a little cranky.

Frankly, I blame Nick’s hair.

Covert Affairs: Good Advices

Okay! That was approximately eighty times better than last week’s episode!

Annie goes on a mission in Paris to meet a young woman named Salma, who works at the Syrian Embassy, in the hopes of cultivating her as a CIA asset. Paris! Annie’s scenes were actually shot in Paris, which was a good call -- for once, this show actually looks like a real, grownup spy series, instead of a pretty good pretender. After much dithering around, Annie manages to orchestrate an encounter with Salma: She secretly exchanges Salma’s ridiculously expensive handbag with her own exact duplicate. When Salma contacts her to arrange a trade, she coerces her into sharing a bottle of wine, engaging in some giddy girl-talk, and accompanying her to a fancy-dress event later that same night. When Annie gets herself in gear, she works fast.

At the event, Annie and Salma run into Eyal Lavin, the dashing and roguish Mossad agent whom Annie had tangled with last season. Oded Fehr! Very pleased to see you here again, sir. Please show up on as many episodes as humanly possible -- heck, if Covert Affairs wanted to make Eyal a regular character, I’d have no complaints -- because you brighten up this show whenever you’re around.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Duranalysis: Lonely In Your Nightmare

Of the three videos Duran Duran shot with Russell Mulcahy whilst in Sri Lanka, “Lonely In Your Nightmare” is both the least known and the least impressive. Granted, the standard set by “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Save a Prayer” is pretty high, but still, this one’s a dud.

At least… well, one version of this video is a dud. You know how Duran Duran kept tweaking and revising their videos, to an extent that even George Lucas would consider overly fussy and excessive? (You know how there’s five different versions of “New Moon On Monday” floating around out there?) Two significantly different versions of this video exist: There’s the original, which was cobbled together entirely from footage shot in Sri Lanka, and a later version, which also contains a bunch of scenes shot in London. The revised version, while not among the all-time best Duran videos, has some good moments. The original version, on the other hand, is… how shall I describe it? I’m going to go with “unwatchable.”

Yeah. That pretty much sums it up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Covert Affairs: Begin the Begin

Season Two of Covert Affairs kicks off with this adequate yet unspectacular installment. Some quick notes right at the start:

1) If this episode title is any indication, it looks like they’ve moved off of Led Zeppelin songs and moved on to R.E.M. this season. Excellent choice.

2) Peter Gallagher is now a full regular cast member instead of a guest star. This is good news for the show, as Gallagher is a force of great awesomeness.

3) The animated opening credit sequence has been tweaked to include Gallagher and to show images of Sendhil Ramamurthy and Anne Dudek instead of merely name-checking them.

4) Sendhil Ramamurthy is still smoking-hot.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Duranalysis: Is There Something I Should Know?

You know, I planned this all wrong.

Back in March, when I first embarked upon this ongoing analysis of Duran Duran videos, I opted to tackle them in random order instead of knocking them out chronologically. So, naturally, I ripped through all the fun, juicy videos right at the start, both the ones I shamelessly adore (“Wild Boys,” “Night Boat”), and the ones I enjoy mocking (“View To a Kill,” “New Moon On Monday”). My mistake. Now that I’m fast running out of material from the band’s Golden Age of Video, I’m stuck with the dregs.

Hello, “Is There Something I Should Know?”