Monday, 28 December 2009
Maybe I’m a complete saddo, but whilst I’ve pretty much lost touch with mainstream cinema, I’ve not lost interest in film criticism. I sometimes follow reviews of films very intently because I have such a strong yearning for them to fail.
I’d never actually go and watch a film because any critic said it was good, or ‘a must see’ in their clichéd phrase. But that's not to say I don't care about their opinions. I do care when they are reviewing films that really shame the human race and make me wish they'd never invented the camera.
The last instance of this was Ingolrs bestsr, or however that shithead Tarantino misspelt the title he’d stolen from another film.
Seeing Tarantino pass off stealing as ‘post-modernism’ is excruciating. Seems even this flabby nutter that dances the twist and talks to himself between serving torture porn can’t do too badly wrong. Ingl bastos was at over 80% last time I checked Rotten Tomatoes.
However, any desire I had to see ingls bsts fail just dwarfs into insignificance compared to the existential crisis I’m feeling at the thought that ‘Nine’ might get good reviews.
If it sprung from what passes as ‘original story idea’ in Hollywood, I wouldn’t care. But it’s based on one of the greatest films ever made, 8 ½ by Federico Fellini. The title catches the attention because it is a bit weird and cryptic.
‘Nine’ is just a crap title.
Furthermore, whilst 8 ½ was a challenging smorgasbord of non-linear plot, superb b/w photography and perfect acting by Marcello Mastroianni, 'Nine' attempts to draw in the crowds with lingerie clad young ladies and AABB rhyme schemed songs as well as a cast that are about as Italian as Gavin Richards. Whilst 8 ½ was a fascinating portrait of post-war, secularised, liberalised Italy, 'Nine' is just another Bratz toy in the crèche of noughties bigbabydom.
If this film is a success on any critical or commercial level, it sounds the death knell of civilisation. If 'Nine' comes to be regarded as the 'definitive version' of Fellini's vision, then I hope Xenu and the Thetans return to earth and do the job properly next time.
So please, ‘be Italian’ this holiday and watch a bloody brilliant Italian film called 8 ½. Don’t be a Hollywood shithead, and stay well-clear of ‘Nine’ whatever you do.
Friday, 25 December 2009
I hope all my readers are well this Christmas and thank you to everyone who has followed this blog and commented.
This photograph is not 'pretty' but it is one of my favourites; the beauty of the distant green fields and snowy mountain combined with the harsh barbed wire reflects my inner state so well. Perhaps I always aspire to more than I can achieve. (As always click for full size image)
I suspect that the coming year will not be pretty for us Brits. Our compatriots have looked at the mess we're in and decided that there is only one sensible solution: vote in a greedy warmonger who will pander to the banks and United States even more than New Labour. Any adult looking at David Cameron and seeing his comments on the banking sector an his support for Georgian NATO membership can only look with horror, even as the electorate have decided to vote for the posh 'charming' bloke.
Still, we must be strong in this time, both spiritually and in terms of trying to influence things. We cannot despair. As St John said, perfect love casts out all fear.
Monday, 21 December 2009
Was reading Wikipedia recently and came across two articles about two figures in popular culture. The first was Stanley Kubrick, whose film The Shining I’ve just ambivalently ordered. I’ve often been interested in the blurring of boundaries between directors and cinematographers, and I tend to think of Kubrick as a master cinematographer rather than as a master director (and for any smartarses who want to quote David Mamet: if you come out of a film and even the cinematography’s crap, you know you’ve seen a Mamet film).
The Shining is probably much as I remember it, a towering performance (ham or no ham) by Jack Nicholson but apart from that, typical Kubrick: gorgeous photography but with a dull, pompous script. The only really good Kubrick film overall that I’ve seen was A Clockwork Orange and perhaps it’s no coincidence that he didn’t really write the script (they read the novel on set and then thought of filming).
However, I’m digressing somewhat. When I read his wiki page, it didn’t really shock me to read that he was economically on the far right and was fairly resigned about warfare. Perhaps this is because Kubrick’s vision was intrinsically dark and anti-humanistic. His right-libertarian views were quite similar to Frank Zappa’s and maybe it is due to America's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural composition, but Americans have traditionally had less of a focus on their poor.
Which is not admirable in itself, yet i would say at least Stan and Frank saved themselves from self-betrayal.
Reading this, I was really horrified. I'm not a great fan of Waters or Pink Floyd, but say it ain't so? The band that touched us all with The Wall and its portrait of urban poverty performing for the countryside alliance!
I accept that animal rights is a complex issue, but it goes deeper than the matter of foxhunting (which I find a sickening idea in itself), but a deeper trend to see our plutocracy as some kind of true force for freedom in Britain. I accept that battery farming is probably crueler, but I can't imagine anyone being seen as some kind of libertarian Lohengrin for saying battery farming misery is worth bargain chicken drumsticks. Whilst I am pleased they've banned foxhunting, my views on the countryside alliance are not so much formed by this as by the way they are portrayed as guardians of liberty.
Just look at The Tatler's portrayal of Bryan Ferry's son as a Kensington and Chelsea Solzhenitsyn for being obnoxious to people in his quest to re-legalise tearing fluffy ginger quadrupeds to pieces. I can sleep soundly knowing that the CCTV saturated/DNA database/ ID card/tasering police state they're constructing will be stopped in its tracks by his heroic pursuit of the freedom to gloat over a dismembered fox. (And incidentally, another one for the evolutionistas. His mum is a right proper aristocrat and she was arrested after she parked her car in the middle of the road and left it locked when a police van was RIGHT BEHIND HER. I mean I'm not 'the cream of society' but that really is bloody thick).
Yet this is part of a wider picture by which our civil liberties are being flushed down the toilet whilst selfish toffs are praised as freedom fighters because... well, they like ripping animals to pieces and they support the right to be selfish against the state. Just look at Boris Johnson, who is portrayed as some kind of Periclean libertarian?
Boris's reputation for freedom like the right's in general seems to be based on the Hayekian argument that free enterprise is the beginning and end of freedom. Which is a pretty good laugh for we quasi-war-nerds who know that the Nazis lost because their corporatist system gave their contracts to private sector companies who produced the coolest and most savage (if not the most efficient) military hardware. In tactical terms they'd have been better off following uncle Joe and nationalising the whole thing, but boy did the Nazi private sector not produce some pretty gnarly stuff.
Yet the role of IG Farben, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Henschel and Son, Krupp etc of supplying the hardware of the Nazi regime is either too inconvenient, too obscure or too interesting for our Hayekian overlords who patronise market fanatics as lovers of freedom regardless of their actual human rights record (look at the gushing praise for Pinochet and Yeltsin).
However, whilst our hegemony of near identical journalists continue to heap praise on the far right concept of freedom as the only viable one, we are slipping into a police state. As for the economic left of which Waters was once a part, it's decline has been even sharper, largely because it was based on the idea that caring for the poor could occur without taxation. His collaborator Gerlad Scarfe has been moving onto similar territory: it was fine for the trendy left to attack Thatcherism, but that's not quite the same as supporting an economic left.
Yet the shock that Waters who wrote an album portraying the rich as (literal), capitalist pigs has metamorphosed into Victor Hazel was nothing compared to the shock I felt when I read that Eric Clapton (yes, Eric Clapton) also performed for The Countryside Alliance!
Again, I realise that this may sound a bit weird, given that I know he endorsed Enoch Powell. Yet I also think (though I am prepared to be proven wrong) that Powell was not the quasi-Fascist he is often portayed as but someone whose message was delivered in the wrong words at the wrong time (and it was adopted by the wrong people).
Yet the thought of Clapton supporting the countryside alliance is somehow even more disturbing for me, because of what the CA represents. Not that I really care much about the CA in itself, but because it represent the corrosion of ideals. One could almost call it a compromise with utopia: they've found their 'utopia' amongst the aristocracy.
I recently bought a bargain price Cream CD. Whilst I dislike the way that Jack Bruce has been written out of the Cream story (not to mention Ginger Baker), I possibly wouldn't have bought it if I'd known Clapton would turn into such a tragic old fart.
From now on I'll never say a bad word about Paul McCartney. Ever again. No matter how pompous he becomes. Or how much he bullies Ringo.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
The difficulty with photos is that if you have to point out why the picture is interesting, you have probably failed to be so. I loved the one with the teddy bear and the CCTV sign though. Says all you need to know about modern Britain and its relationship with surveillance.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Things change so rapidly these days. I'm only in my twenties and I'm already sounding old, but I remember a time when 'political correctness' was a weird concept that only profound bores talked about.
These poor, sad creatures would waffle on about how it was now racist to call blackboards 'blackboards' and binbags 'black bags'. Said bores thought that the particular instances in which hapless innocents were routinely lynched for saying 'blackboard' were so numerous and well documented that they needn't concern us with the details. Being honest, I don't think I ever registered enough interest for them to elucidate. I probably just snorted and went back to reading whatever Sven Hassell book was in the bestseller list.
Anyway, political correctness really has gone mad if Te Graun is anything to go by.
Firstly, this. A Virgin Media advert implied that ginger people are unattractive. Methinks that is a little like implying that we can't keep our good health without oxygen.
'Virgin Media's ad campaign, one of a series that ran in the morning freesheet Metro, prompted three complaints to the ASA that it was offensive to people with ginger hair and had implied they were unattractive.'
Really, what kind of person phones up the ASA to say that they read an advert implying that ginger haired people were unattractive? Could there be a nagging thought in the back of their minds that they imply rather than state it because to state it would be too bloody obvious? Could it be that like the trolls in Peer Gynt, we will start gouging eyes out if people do not see beauty where there is none (and who's to say what beauty is anyway?)
One thing I notice when taking photos is how different people look to the photos that decorate the place. If someone does wander into the frame, they will probably be fat and past middle age.
Now there's nothing wrong with that, and I'm no beauty myself, but I do feel distant from my society and can't help thinking that the two dimensional configurations of ink that populate the high street are used to catch the eyes which are diverted from the people. And of course, for us blokes it is one thing (we'll even see posters of uglier blokes), but for women it is far more noticeable. They are invisible to the majority (including their contemporaries). As our films, adverts and music are turning into soft porn, our society is also fragmented.
But the Lib Dem 'friends of freedom' are coming to the rescue, to stop airbrushing. Really, I find this quite astounding. There are beautiful people, they are made to look even more beautiful and idealised. Why, when I was last in Auld Reekie, I saw that they'd started decorating their lingerie shops with plastic people (don't think they've got this far North yet, not that I habitually look into lingerie shop windows) presumably because the skinniest underwear models were too flabby, or something.
Of course, they also have male underwear models with less fat and more muscles than I have, but frankly, I don't care if they are real, airbrushed or computer generated. They won't get me to take excercise on damp days or drink less than 2 litres of milk a day when there's no fast.
But then, I have always to acknowledge that not everyone has my lofty mind which helps my stoic attitude towards weight problem and it is tragic to hear about anorexia amongst girls, but I also think that people have to learn that not everyone can be an object of stunning beauty. And why should they? Is it really such a wonderful ideal to have?
Friday, 4 December 2009
When chatting to my pal Gareth, we have decided to try and enscriven our psychomorphic concepts of the nature of reality. Hopefully we will en-plegnify these on the medium of the aethersphere and to the entukasmic joy of our readers, make these gems of writing available... except beware 'those not dead eternal lie'.
Sorry, bit carried away there. Anyway, we were chatting about our shared affection for HP Lovecraft. Was he a philosopher, satirist, pompous windbag, madman, racist fanatic, Anglo-Saxon (therefore ‘superior’) Baudelaire, psychologist, humanist, mystic, materialist? Or all these things and none of them?
If I can quote Joyce Carol Oates:
In the celebrated opening of "The Picture in the House" (1920), the nature of Lovecraft's infatuation with landscape is vividly rendered:
Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and desolate mountain are their shrines…. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous.
In Lovecraft, as frequently in Poe, style and self-parody are indistinguishable.
Anyway, we decided that we would both try and write stories in his style.
My posts are getting few and far between. To be honest, I really hate politics, and were it not for my sincere belief that my country is in crisis I would not write on the matter.
(As a lot of my posts were on Russia, this is slightly more complex: to do partially with my love for Russian culture, and partially because I dislike the way that Russian history and politics are forced, like Medieval Chinese girls’ feet, into the received wisdom of ‘philosophy of history’)
Still, I love reading fiction but have never had the motivation to give it much effort because I always think of how discouraging the slush pile is. I've spent numerous hours trying to write a book inspired by 'The Devils' (by Dostoyevsky). But it was a bit of a mess. However, if I can even manage to write a short story, and only a few friends read it, I would think it worthwhile.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
There IS a conspiracy to make us dumb.
And it's worked. I strongly dislike alcohol (except for celebrations and then in moderation) and horrid as it that people are loosing their jobs, I am delighted to see so many off-licenses going bust. If I became a tyran- I mean, Prime Minister, the first thing I'd do would be to multiply the tax band on cheap alcohol. This is not because I am a puritan, but precisely because alcohol causes such vast misery.
'The drink is brewed by an Aberdeen-based company called BrewDog and contains six units of alcohol per 330ml, making it the strongest in the UK.
The label on the bottles states: "Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, have excess. This beer is for those times."
Aristotle himself couldn't have formulated a more elegant syllogism, but:
'The drinks watchdog the Portman Group investigated the beverage after complaints were made about the wording on the label.'
So someone complained about a label? Please tell me that the label said 'contains alcohol'? It would be awful if someone bought a beer with 18% alcohol on the side in the mistaken belief that it was non-alcoholic. If they stop saying that beer contains alcohol they might stop telling us that peanuts contain peanuts and milk contains milk.
Update: It's not getting any smarter out there