Monday, October 30, 2006

A snape, a knave, a jackalope

There is a palpable difference in the light in London. The weak, dishwater rays that seem too timid for the shadows often make the city feel worse than it is, and whilst there is night there is never dark in the outdoors, a thin layer of orange sodium burning everywhere like an abandoned level of hell, fires smouldering.
It's only through travel that you realise that it's not like this everywhere, my eyes now only accustomed to a narrow range of light.

Night time oranges and daytime greys are the colours that define London.

The grime and the botch-job DIY of this city that has mutated over hundreds of years is perfectly captured in Children of Men.
It's a London instantly recognisable and yet different, as if fast-tracked down one particularly nasty future alley.
In its science fiction it is credible, all performances solid and robust and a storyline that's depressingly believable enough.

But it is the direction that makes the film, the way it is told and what you see. The details that are revealed rather than explained, the over-the-shoulder viewpoint in some scenes making you feel that you are literally part of the story.
It's this inclusion that lends the film its weight, and led to me fighting back the tears for the first time in a long time because of a film.

Some criticisms of the film I've read are the lack of explanation, but it is key to the way the film unfolds. Especially in a sci-fi setting, it's incredibly jarring to have everything explained to you in such a way that all the people living in the world aren't used to it themselves. Exposition is a tricky task, and in Children of Men the problem is handled admirably. Do not listen to these people and their complaints, for they are wrong and they inflate the ranks of the damned.

I'm not going to go into any more detail, just know that you have to see it, and see it soon. You may not thank me as it if nothing else is fully deserving of the term harrowing, but you will have seen the best film this year.

London seems to be a good place for dystopian futures, it seems.


Back in happy land, I hope you took the opportunity to see brand new South Park. Whilst the second conspiracy episode of this half-season wasn't as good, the last two have excelled, Cartman regaining some authorataih and Satan holding a party on Earth.
Watch niiicce and Biggie Smalls...Biggie Smalls...Biggie Smalls!.

Still don't believe me? Vote or die


Say hello to Brown Food

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Eight on a Saturday morning is when you aim to be digging up roads, no? I don't have double-glazing, so they may as well be digging up my floorboards.
Joy and rapture!

Luckily this little video cheered me up a bit : click it
Otherwise I would be thunderous and murderous and stuff.

Last week I saw Snakes on a Plane. It was an average movie, a little predictable, a little amusing, so just as well that it cost me £1.50 at the Prince Charles. See the film was okay, but that wasn't the only performance I was party to.

A little man, very reminiscent of the gentleman above, was sitting in front of me. The warning signs came before the film started, with the man leaving his seat for the lobby, returning to one a row or two behind me before ending up back in front of me, in time for the screening to begin. Then joy of joys, I discovered that he was A Whacko.
Whenever anything mildly exciting happened on screen, this man would jump around in his seat, sling his arm up over his head, let out little yelps or scratch the back of his head in an uncomfortably vigorous manner. It all culminated when he peaked in his excitement and ended up actually talking to a character in the film, warning them of impending snake.
Luckily I was watching Snakes on a Plane so it wasn't deeply involving or remotely complicated, but I don't think it's too much to ask for for my fellow film goers to sit down and shut the fuck up. I'm not in America, I don't want whooping and hollering with my movie.

It kind of makes a mockery of that ad they show nowadays, trying to get you to avoid pirate DVDs and visit the cinema instead because of the experience, when that experience involves suffering the bovine populace mindlessly thwarting your simple desire to enjoy a film.
Cinemas that now charge more than the film will cost to own, double the usual price for drinks and snacks, people turning up about 15 minutes into the movie (and about half an hour after the advertised show times - what the fuck are these people thinking? If they don't want to see it why go at all?!), people deciding that the best place to meet up with friends and catch up is where others want to watch a film, the repetition for months on end of the same run of boring, offensive adverts (the mayfly doesn't use his day of life to the max, it is his lifetime, his perception will be totally different), cinemas insisting on allocating seats when the show is less than half full, and the aforementioned human jackanapes who see fit to inflict their social maladjustments on the long-suffering public.

Why can't the adverts be as good as this - clicky? Or this - clickclick? I'd rather see those a dozen times than another horrific attempt at selling cars.

To counterbalance the unfortunate cinematic experiences, one week at my new job and I feel like I belong there.
Which is nice.

To close, two decent links to arty images - clouds and amazing paper artwork.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Isaac Hayes never bought me a drink

Click this link to see the new South Park episode, beginning the second half of season ten.
You should do this because South Park is fantastic and the best Western animation of the past couple of decades.
Feral crudity mixed with razor-sharp and last-minute cultural observations, it's a crime that they stopped releasing the DVDs in the UK from season 4.

Then look at this picture:

It's an image from the upcoming 'next gen' iteration of the video game series Rampage. For those with a less than impressive versing in videogame history, Rampage was a game which allowed the player to adopt the persona of a person who for some reason mutated into an animal of Godzilla proportions so that you could then destroy buildings, eat people and knock police choppers out of the sky. Hailing from the mid-80s, it was a fairly basic 8bit game which was confined to a solitary screen - the newest version published by Midway will no doubt offer more freedom, better graphics and hopefully more in-depth gameplay.
It will also offer a wider choice of creatures to control, though as you can see from the screenshot above one of the characters seems to be a massive penis.


Going back to the last entry, I wanted to add a bit more on the stylistic side of Fahrenheit 9/11.
Unsurprisingly it deals with the WTC tragedy of 2001 as part of the film, but I found it was dealt with with a surprising amount of subtlety. With all the related news items, documentaries and films that mention or focus on the event, the money shot of a plane strike inevitably features, but this film takes a different tack.
Using footage filmed at the scene, all we see are the reactions of people on the ground, dozens of people in shock, all looking to the sky as if sharing a mass religious experience. It's a touching choice that adds beauty to the documentary, and it's hard to decide if it is despite or because of the inclusion of shots of paper from the towers swirling in the air in a more affecting but obviously uncontrived version of the American Beauty 'bag scene'.


Lots of the recent past has been about 'work'. I did an overnight shift for the first and hopefully last time last week, and it was a less than pleasant experience. Working from 8pm to 7 am, the night itself was okay, that mostly depends on the company, but it was the aftermath that did me.
Once again the reality of the idea of 'getting old' has hit me, as I remember the weekends a decade ago of partying through the night with little ill effect, severely contrasting with this week taking me two full days to try and feel normal again. And they were days off so heaven knows how I would have coped if I had to work too.
And then yesterday I left my old job after 9 years, finally having something else to go to in a week.
It's odd how panicky I don't feel, how I've almost completely accepted the situation in a no-skin-off-my-nose fashion. Of course it may be different next Sunday, but at the moment all I'm dreading is the commute of a 'normal' Monday-Friday 9-5.

I had a thing last night to say goodbye, and it was fantastic so thanks to everyone who made it.

Rounding off I'm going to link all my reviews to date as it's not obvious at first glance which are mine on the site, see how I think of you all?

Agitator, As Tears Go By, The Bodyguard, Bride With White Hair, Crying Fist, Gojoe, Hapkido, Hiruko the Goblin, The Little Norse Prince, My Kung Fu 12 Kicks, My Neighbours the Yamadas, Peace Hotel, Secret of Shaolin Poles, Seoul Raiders, She Shoots Straight, Silver, Sky Blue, Warrior King, Whisper of the Heart

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The frustration of impotence

So I've just watched Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.
I'd originally put off seeing it when it was first released, partly out of the feeling of preaching to the converted (which, it has just occurred to me, makes no sense as a phrase. Preaching to the converted is the norm in most religions...), and partly out of a wariness brought about by the sustained dissection of Bowling for Columbine.
There were various accusations pertaining to the parts that seem to be insinuated or fabricated as opposed to documented, and I accepted these as the film as a whole got the message across and well - that the USA has a disproportional rate of gun related violence, guns are readily available and that the mainstream media scaremongers.

But in the run up to the release of Fahrenheit (after the post-Disney suppression) I'd read a lot about how the film suffered even more from events that were insinuated or just made up, so I gave it a miss. And I really shouldn't have.
There really isn't any actual content that is in dispute. The way the film is edited creates obvious bias, it's true, and whilst no documentary can be truly objective I don't think Moore ever set out to pretend this. And like I said, none of the facts can be disputed - they can be argued against just as I can argue that you're not really reading this, but you are.
It is a fact that the 2001 US election was fixed, that Al Gore was the elected president of the USA. Sure, elections are rigged the world over, but rarely do they impact so deeply into the lives of people outside the respective countries.
It's a fact that the Bush family has a long business history with the oil industry and the Bin Laden family, and that Bush and his administration have personally gained from their foreign policy decisions. It is a fact that they knew there were no WMDs in Iraq and that Iraq did not pose a threat to its neighbours at that time. And so on, and on and on.

And whilst we can ruminate on what could have been, that Clinton was often little better in his little Democratic blip in the last 25 years and that there's every possibility that Gore could have turned out as a spineless, money-grabbing war monger, but this brings me to the other documentary I saw two weeks back. An Inconvenient Truth.

It shows evidence that Gore has actually dedicated at least a small amount of time in at least the last 3 decades into thinking about the state of this planet that we all have to share, which seems a huge amount more than Bush has managed. Again, an Inconvenient Truth can be accused of preaching to the converted. But again the facts are undeniable. Our actions are having a direct and massive effect, changing the climate of our planet and everything we've come to take for granted.
It's not some risk like smoking, where you have the possibility of smoking every day of your life and living to 90 without dying of anything smoking related.
Climate change is happening now, the temperature of Earth is rising now, the weather systems have already been affected and even if we all stop contributing to global warming today, completely, the temperature will still keep rising for some decades.
This isn't something that we can ignore, that we can hope goes away, pretend isn't happening. Everybody needs to act now, and the film does a fantastic job getting it across, from what's happening and how, what will happen if we do nothing and what we can do to change.
And like Gore says, it doesn't require a massive effort on our part, we don't have to stop being the ipod generation, it just takes little steps, lots of little steps that all add up.
Click to visit the site and do at least one thing to help yourself

I really hate sounding like some git trying to get people to join a cause, but this is ridiculous, it's not something we can ignore, it's not homelessness, vivisection, extinction, it's going to affect the whole planet and everyone on it. True, many of us will be dead before it gets stupendously bad, so why worry?
Just look at the site and change your lightbulb to an energy saving one. And put a jumper on now it's getting cold, you don't need the heating just yet.

despite all the talk of Gore et al, saying that denial usually leads straight to despair - once you accept there's something wrong you feel powerless even though you're not - I still do feel that impotence.
Is it any wonder that I feel a sense of powerlessness when in my adult life I've seen the President of the US get in power despite losing the election, and my own country going to war despite hundreds of thousands of people actually taking to the streets, not just tutting and moaning but getting up, going out and trying to show that this particular thing is unacceptable. So what can we do to make a difference? I guess we just have to take a little step for ourselves, and hope that everyone else joins in.
So this is my bit to try and get other people to join in - just do something, change that frigging lightbulb, I know you can afford it and if you really can't then tell me and I'll get you one for Christmas.

And we're STILL in fucking Iraq! It's obscene!
The war that was "won" years ago is now worse than ever, and not only that but some reports suggest that incidents of torture are worse than under Saddam (clicky).
So, there were no WMDs, Iraqis are worse off, US and UK soldiers are dying every week not to mention the men and women left crippled and having to deal with out labyrinthine disability benefit system, poor fuckers.

Yeah, so to stop this degenerating into a rant, get yourself a fucking energy saving lightbulb and dig those jumpers out of the wardrobe.