Happy Advent

Thu, Dec. 1st, 2016 02:47
gominokouhai: (Default)

Across the nation, every beloved comedian, treasured thespian, and talented musician tentatively opens door #1 on their festive calendar, hands all a-tremble. Can they last through to calendar's end?

It was a choice what was behind that door: a choice between a miniature chocolate and the Reaper Himself. Anxiously collapse that waveform. The chocolate behind door #1 is, however, an advent calendar chocolate, and therefore somehow still manages to be disappointing.

2016 is 91.667% done with, folks. Let's at least try to make it with [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] still intact. Names removed, because at this stage I don't want to tempt fate.

Let's dance

Mon, Jan. 11th, 2016 18:41
gominokouhai: (Default)

Is it just me, or has the quality of radio programming taken a distinct upturn today?

I never got around to Bowie. I've heard his stuff in the background. I can recognize his voice. I've drunkenly sung along to Life on Mars in the pub, despite not, at the time, knowing the lyrics. And I know Under Pressure obviously.

Related: way back when, I only got into Queen at Freddie's tribute concert—although I have vague childhood memories of Live Aid. Apparently, sometimes people have to die before I take notice of them. That's not right.

When I first met her, Jehane could only ever get to sleep by playing a single Bowie song on constant repeat. We'd wake up the following morning and it would still be going. I wish I could remember which one it was.

I've liked him in a general way, but I never really spent any time on him. It's time to change that. Recommend me some albums.

Goddammit

Thu, Apr. 28th, 2011 15:58
gominokouhai: (Default)

I suddenly find myself unable to continue ignoring the royal wedding. It's got Daleks in it.

A royal wedding street party with a difference will see a Dalek serve up trays of drinks and snacks to guests on Friday - presumably with cries of 'Extermi-Cake'.

More likely, WOULD YOU CARE FOR A PLAS-TIC CUP OF LUKE-WARM CHE-RRY-ADE. Although, the more I think about it, the more this starts to make sense. What better way to celebrate a great British institution than with a terrifying symbol of imperialistic aggression? Particularly, one that some bloke from the Home Counties has spent a week painting red, white and blue?

I am no stranger to those odd periods of mass hysteria that we're all subjected to on occasion. When Diana died I bought Candle in the Wind twice. I saw Titanic three times in the cinema (and each time, because it is a four-hour-long behemoth, I had to go to the loo just before Kate Winslet gets nekkid.) We're all allowed to get emotional beyond the bounds of reason now and then, especially if we blog self-deprecatingly about it years later. But this one just seems supremely pointless. Two people I don't care about are performing a ceremony I don't care about. I'm not invited. I don't get any of the cake. I am unsure what, as a nation, we all gain by waving flags to solemnize the fact that, according to a book most of us haven't read, two young people are now permitted to fuck.

I shall be at work tomorrow. Although I might take the opportunity to have an excuse to rewatch The Princess Bride.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Kettling is a tool used solely to stifle dissent. So we now have a handheld Iphone app to avoid kettles.

In Egypt, they shut down the internet. So the Egyptians built their own one.

This is a message to The Man: don't fuck with geeks.

Four Lions

Thu, Apr. 29th, 2010 16:38
gominokouhai: (Default)

Apparently Chris Morris says that attempting to create controversy is one of the most boring things you can do. It seems odd, then, that he never sits down and thinks: for my next project, I'll write about the droll antics of a cartoon dog. Instead, for his first feature film, he's taken on the popular subjects of Islamic extremism and suicide bombing. A rollicking good time is guaranteed for all.

Morris is doubtless going to receive unending flak from the same people who spectacularly missed the point of Paedogeddon by claiming that it was making light of a taboo topic. But terrorism is comedy and has been for some years now. Remember the Glasgow Airport attacks? Two idiots drove their car into a bollard, a wee jakey baggage-handler having a fag break kicked them in the nutsacks, and they fell over. While on fire. That's not terrorism, that's slapstick. With a provenance like that, a film like Four Lions can't fail to have comedy value. But is it good satire?

It doesn't have to be. Morris' satire is uncompromising and uncomfortable; it goes beyond amusing into disturbing when he depicts a bunch of bizarrely stupid people, then turns the mirror around and says, That's You, That Is. You squirm in your seat and maybe come away with a different view of the world, but you don't laugh. This is why I've always preferred The Day Today to Brass Eye; it's sillier, and it bites less. No one can deny that Morris' satire bites with the viciousness of the deadliest shark, but you don't always want to settle down and watch a fun comedy only to find, halfway through, that your arm's hanging off.

So in tackling the very current and pertinent subject of Islamic terrorism, Morris has wisely chosen to use it only as a setting. This isn't a film about terrorism, it's a film about dysfunctional group dynamics. The characters are jihadists, but they might as well be a five-a-side football club or a scout group engaged in some crazy caper. Actually, thinking about it, they might as well be The Young Ones. There's the bossy one, the thick one, the cool one, and the slightly-saner one. As they bumble and bicker their way through doctrinal disputes and IED manufacture, we get to see some wonderfully-drawn character moments and learn convoluted new insults amongst the immensely quotable dialogue.

The plot follows our eponymous Lions through the tribulations of martyrdom: building suicide bombs, trial runs, selecting targets, and avoiding detection. Everything is presented in such a straightforward way that when they finally start to execute their plan in the final reel, it comes as a jarring shift in tone. The awkward juxtaposition of domestic comedy with real horror perfectly mirrors the characters' own feelings towards the end of the story, and thus was probably intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Morris may not always be subtle, but he knows his craft.

There's some incredibly effective use of hand-held camerawork to create an immersive feel, and not in the usual, tired manner in which they lazily emulate the fly-on-the-wall documentary. Since the characters spend half of the film pointing cameras at each other, when your point of view wobbles it simply means that you're standing in the living room with them, a fifth uncredited co-conspirator with another camcorder. The performances are genuine and natural: the characters are just blokes who happen to be making explosives on their allotment.

If anything, that's the message of the film. Terrorists are human beings, just like you: which means that, just like you, they're incompetent, clueless, and foolish, vainly stumbling through life in a harebrained struggle to find some sense to make of it all, an attempt that's ultimately doomed to be an utter failure. Most of the kneejerk criticism from the tabloids is going to be about the fact that the film portrays terrorists in a sympathetic light, but what it's actually doing is portraying people with bitter, nihilistic cynicism, in a heartwarming sort of way.

The climactic scenes are set at a major public event such as that where terrorism might conceivably take place (no spoilers here). They feel like a bit of a copout, as if it's an attempt to cram some extra humour into the film by having everybody in silly costumes at the end. If so, it's a wasted effort: the film is hilarious without help. I laughed a lot. And because it wouldn't be a Chris Morris production unless it made me feel horrendously uncomfortable in some way or other, I laughed a lot, realised with horror what nightmarish events I was laughing at, and then started to laugh at that instead.

It's a very British film. I think it's a very important film, but only in an incidental way. Mostly it's a film with brilliant characterization. If it horrifies us then it's because we find ourselves relating to and engaging with monsters, but we did that in Frankenstein, Downfall, and Dr Strangelove. Sometimes it's good to stare into the abyss, and to realise that the abyss is pathetic.

Just like you.

On stones

Sun, Jun. 15th, 2008 15:17
gominokouhai: (Default)

Somebody has left a pamphlet in the office about the evils of caffeine. I'm very glad they did. It reminded me that I have a cup of tea brewing. Mmm, tea.

~

Today's constitutional crisis, threatening to rock the very foundations of the Scottish establishment[0], is that Our Eck reckons that the Stone of Scone is a fake. I'm not sure what constitutes fake when we're talking about rocks. Is it secretly made of plastic? Is it just rock veneer on a cardboard facsimile? Is it somehow less rocklike that we've been led to believe?

I've always thought it was a pretty stupid national symbol in any case. Down south, they have the Crown Jewels in all their resplendent finery. Up here we have a chunk of rock, and we're proud of it.

Mind you, Edward I the Scots-Hammer went to the trouble, in 1296, to raise an army and come all the way up here in order to steal the same said chunk of rock. Who's looking foolish now?

And theories persist that instead of the historic throne of Scottish kings, he was given a toilet seat instead. Who's looking foolish now? I've often wondered how that would have worked. Let's imagine it together, in Braveheart-style glorious Technicolor™-o-vision:

Lights! Camera! Irish Army Reservists! Action! )

From the article, Professor Ted Cowan says: How credible is it that you can just make a replica of something like that in five minutes because Edward I of England is coming to steal the real one? Actually, it's really very credible indeed. It's a rock. You can find them just lying around.

The Professor, we're told, is one of Scotland's most senior historians. And yet he doesn't seem to know the scarcity value of rocks. I think Edinburgh isn't what it used to be.

--
[0] Pun not intended, I swear.

Profile

gominokouhai: (Default)
gominokouhai

October 2017

S M T W T F S
12345 67
891011121314
15161718 192021
22232425262728
293031    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios