Friday, 26 November 2004
If Milli Vanilli falls over in the woods, does somebody else make a sound?
Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film.
Why is a delivery on a ship called a "cargo" and a delivery by car a "shipment"?
Most teenagers seem to think that being individual is looking like everyone else.
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.
If something is adjustable, sooner or later it will need adjusting.
When you point one finger at someone else, you're pointing four at yourself. Think about that when you want to blame someone.
Is it possible to look cool whilst picking up a frisbee?
Under Capitalism, man exploits man. Under Communism, the reverse is true.
Never fall in love with a tennis player...love means nothing to them.
"I am, therefore I think." Isn't that putting Descartes before the horse?
In 1994, Los Angeles Police arrested a man for dressing up as the Grim Reaper – complete with scythe – and standing outside the windows of old peoples' homes and staring in.
Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music. (Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, Inc., 1989)
If practice makes perfect and nobody's perfect, then why practise?
If you send someone a bag of snow and it melts in the post, they won't get your drift.
Victor Hugo once said, "You can prevent the invasion of armies, but not the invasion of ideas." What he really meant to say was, "You can prevent the invasion of armies, unless you're French."
(Borrowed from "Things We Didnt' Know" on www.iwantoneofthose.com. I'll give them back...honest.)
Thursday, 25 November 2004
Nugget: turn on the projector and the rest is silence.
Tuesday, 23 November 2004
Nugget: "Isn't it funny how when you can't afford something it costs a fortune, but suddenly when you can afford it it's just, like, free?"
Sunday, 21 November 2004
It's a hot summer in LA. Water levels are low. Private snoop Jake Gittes (Nicholson) is hired by a distressed wife to expose her husband, whom she insists is having an affair. It turns out he works for the city water board and that not everything is as it first seemed. A great script continually flashes "wrong way" signs, just after it has assured you that this was the diversion to get round the traffic jam. We see things from Gittes's perspective - we feel how he is cut out of the loop and lied to repeatedly by his clients.
There are some odd moments in this film, like when Faye Dunaway rests her head on the steering wheel of her car, accidentally tooting the horn: some odd laughs, that may have been outtakes that were left in, or deliberate jibes by Polanski.
Nugget: shows real affection for an old genre, in which Wilder and Welles used to excel - but arguably does it better. A pleasure to see it for the first time on the big screen, even if the print was ageing and the projectionist fiddled with the focus for the first fifteen minutes.
Friday, 12 November 2004
The second rule of Right Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.
The third rule of Fight Club is: You do not quote these lines.
(I'm sure those rules were created just to make the trailers sound cool; or to prevent spoilers. Hence, I won't talk about Fight Club and ruin the plot.)
It's a while since I've seen this. Movies like this (and Memento, The Usual Suspects, The Shawshank Redeption, The Sixth Sense) lose their impact on a second viewing. But it's still a stylish and well made film; and Brad Pitt is on form, even if he doesn't have to do much because his character is so cool already.
Edward Norton plays an office bum (like Neo in The Matrix, except not as gay) who is bullied by his boss, unhappy and insomniac. He goes to group therapy for testicular cancer so he can cry on Meat Loaf's bitch tits (contrary to reports, he was not wearing a fat suit: those were real). The plot has the appearance of being all joined up: "It all started when I met a girl called Marla Singer..."; but it's more like a blind person is playing dot-to-dot on a bumpy bus ride.
The best parts of this film are the little things: like the airline safety card that shows the passengers' true emotions during a sea-landing (panic); the line about making expensive soap from liposuction fat: "It was beautiful. We were selling rich women their own fat asses back to them"; or the bit when Norton says if he could fight any historic figure, he's fight Gandhi. On the whole, there's some great writing (most of it, I suspect, in Chuck Palahniuk's novel), like when a cancer patient gets up to talk about her experiences: "Chloe looked the way Meryl Streep's skeleton would look if you made it smile and walk around the party being extra nice to everybody."
Nugget: The fourth rule of Fight Club is: Shut up already!
Wednesday, 10 November 2004
This is a well balanced film, with opinion from right-wing think-tankers, Nobel Prize-winning (hawk) economists, reformed conscience CEOs, Michael Moore, and Noam Chomsky. There's a hilarious scene from one of Moore's movies when he goes to sing Christmas carols - in true corporate spirit - in the foyer of a large tobacco company...with victims of throat cancer, who squawk along, holding a finger to the hole in their throat.
But it's not all end-of-the-world stuff. There are some uplifting citings of the people uprising in Bolivia to oppose the privitization of their city's water supply; of advocates for sustainable development; of smalltown American communities boycotting chain stores. We (or our lawyers did) gave birth to this monster; but we can also slay it like Beowulf.
Nugget: Not quite as engaging as Mark Achbar's 1992 film, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, but still makes informative and at times entertaining and funny viewing.
Friday, 5 November 2004
There's a dizzingly amazing crane shot during the performance of the play, when the camera flies up from the stage and spins around the auditorium before finding Peter Llewelyn Davies (Freddie Highmore) in the audience. In an earlier garden scene, there's some clever editing to show Peter's internal psychology: he is the only one of the five playing a game of cowboys and indians who isn't using his imagination: shots of him are in the garden at home; from the others' perspective, they are on a cowboy movie set.
Nugget: avoids tweeness; sentimental, but not stickily.
Tuesday, 2 November 2004
The polar plots develop as two writers sketch out their opposing views by taking the same basic story and making it either tragic or comic. Melinda is a fuckup friend who walks in on a dinner party when her life is falling apart. Her Park Avenue princess friends hook her up with a guy and things - as they tend to do in Allen's worldview - get messy. The plots begin to converge at the end, demonstrating that when tragedy is taken to an extreme, it can seem comic.
Nugget: Allen admits that he just can't do Bergman by letting the laughs seep into the tragic plot by juxtaposition.
You stand there half-hunched
Over dust and ash and desk,
Laptop laid out, flopped back to the sky.
Dappled ashen dust screen,
Pockered keys, wires tripping on the floor.
Carpet covered in filing overspill,
Regular chaos in poetic form.
Books beline shelves on all sides,
Knowledge learned, loved, knocked back
Like a bottle and a half of red.
You look apologetic about this den,
This breeding ground of cursed spawn
Of serpents small, error's minions
Nashed up in the pores and breathing space
Of the housetop. What is here
But we may read in books –
And a great deal more too –
Without stirring our feet out of a warm study?
Paper monster, full and black as ink
Spot. Poems clean and polished
Are unearthed here, dug from the depths
Of soily gritty logos worms
Down a hole with beak, chasing juices
Like a morning bird.
After the rains, the dirt washed off,
The gems glisten on plain paper,
Clean not crinkle-bashed,
Panned and sifted, shifted
Above the stream.
Monday, 1 November 2004
Once I finished up with Tom, I walked down Abingdon Road to Jamie's house. Xon (which I later found out is pronounced "chon") answered the door. She took me upstairs to Jamie's study. He's a poet, published by Faber. His room was suitably lived in. It was amiably chaotic. My job was to help him transfer some files from his old, chugging laptop to his much newer Toshiba. It took us more than a couple of hours. As his desk was so cluttered, I set up my laptop on the floor to receive his files disk by disk on floppy. Then I burnt them all on to CD and copied them on to his new laptop.
Perhaps as a result of all my crouching, kneeling and sitting on the floor, my circulation was beginning to go. When I was sitting on the chair with my laptop on my lap, helping Xon to combine two jpegs into one, I began to get pins and needles in my left leg. I flexed it a little bit, but it didn't go away. When I got up to fetch something, my leg became totally spasticated. I almost fell over. I guess it was like having multiple sclerosis momentarily, or feeling unsteady on my feet like an old fogie. It was quite scary, but funny as well. It was like my leg was stuck in a bucket of gluey quicksand. I felt like Mr Soft from the Softmints advert: "Oh Mr Soft, why won't you tell me why the world in which you're living is so strange?" It went away, eventually, but it's still feeling a little tender a few hours after the event.
Before the screening Bacon and co. were presented on stage. He said he was glad to be in London, a rare opportunity for him - which always means he doesn't want to be here. His blondie wife stood beside him, hands behind her halternecked back, and only spoke to say her dress was by a British designer. Like I care. But sadly, I know there will be many who were impressed. Then Bacon introduced a blinged up black guy, Damien Dash, whose fat hip-hop producer's cheque book had paid for the movie. Bacon schmoozed that he was wearing a suit designed by said same bling-merchant. Again, like I care. Again, some would have wowed.
Then the movie. Then the questions from a dumb-fuck suck-up sycophant-you-wanna-make-me-rant audience. "I just want to say, I thought your performances were all great...", "I'm from Philly ::Woo!:: and I'm so glad you shot the film there...". Fuck. Off.
I liked the film. I could care less for the event.
Vickie tries to uncover Walter's black secret. Meanwhile, he meets occasionally with his brother-in-law (Benjamin Bratt), his only contact with a family that has disowned him. Police Sgt. Lucas (Mos Def) drops by from time to time to harrass Walter, letting him know that he's under constant surveillance. We also see Walter in conversation with his therapist.
New director Nicole Kassell doesn't try to justify or condone child molestation, or explain the why's or the how's of its happenings. We sympathize with Walter's isolation, yet we cringe at his stupidity, following young girls in shopping malls and public parks. We don't understand his temptation. There is a marvellous and frightening scene on a park bench when Walter talks to an eleven-year-old girl (Hannah Pilkes), who rides the same bus as him and gets off at the park to go bird-watching.
The screenplay by Kassell and Steven Fechter is wonderfully poised. At times the characters' words shimmer in poetic simplicity: they talk of one thing, but may mean another. Closure is reached through a final monologue voice-over from the therapy sessions, but without any hint of Hollywood schmaltz. Pictures, rather than words convey meaning.
Nugget: a rare example of good writing and sensible, usually controlled acting. A stand-out performance by Hannah Pilkes.
For more on the London Film Festival première, see this post.