Monthly Archives: July 2003

Positive Review: Minority Report

My July Project has failed. But, for Ainsley, what I liked about Minority Report:

I liked that John Anderton was a drug addict. Because blockbusters rarely allow their characters to have adult failings, because this is the now of America rather than the future, because Tom Cruise has become too clean cut in recent years.

In fact, I liked Tom Cruise’s performance overall. He does a good driven man (see also Harrison Ford in The Fugitive and Mark Wahlberg in Planet of the Apes).

I liked the shotgun that Tom picked up in the car factory skirmish. Because I like first person shooters and cross-fertilising media codes, because I like gun action movies, because it’s just fun.

I liked the cars that are able to take part in a public transport grid and merge with the city’s architecture. Because I like this kind of socio-technology.

I liked the cybersex baggies that people wrap themselves in. Because it’s so squalid and human, because it acknowledges limitations in technology and usefulness in our own bodies. (Gwyneth Jones mentions similar tech in North Wind.)

I liked the big International Rescue look of the Pre-Crime Division, tapping into Grant Morrison’s anticipation of the post-S11 zeitgeist.

I like movies that have a go at a complete sci fi environment (Star Wars, Bladerunner, The Fifth Element).

And I liked the cinematography. Mmm, white darkness.

Aristotelean

Aristotelian drama. I think Aristotle stands for more, though – all those common senses of trad storytelling.

(Babylon 5 is very much taken with Aristotle, and in this sense it is a step backwards from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which kept away from bloodlines, assumed all gods were frockless from the get-go, allowed characters to remain largely unchanged, and happily killed every bit of forboding it introduced.)

Buffy To Go

Let’s have a look at outstanding story points I can think of. Feel free to disagree or tell me something I’ve missed.

Spike. Will his soul stop him killing? Buffy knows the answer to this and so do we: yes. This has been answered again and again in Buffy and Angel. What about him and Buffy? I think that was shown last night. What was the First Evil’s plan for him?

Willow. Is she evil? No. Compare her love making with Kennedy last night to that of Buffy and Angel in Season 2. But I still think that she will have to face Tara (the show has an excellent track record of getting talent back when they need it, so I don’t think we got Cassie channeling Tara purely for availability reasons).

Andrew. Is he evil? No, he’s definitely done, I mainly mention him to point out the similarity between what Buffy forced him to realise and what she realised herself last night.

Anya. Is she evil? No, just misguided, as we’ve seen. But can she find a human identity for herself? … Will she get back together with Xander? I’d be happy for their story to stop being told at the point we saw them last night. Buffy doesn’t strike me as the kind of story that ends with Happily Ever After (or its negative equivalent).

Dawn. When will she grow up? When she’s older. But I was impressed with her first tentative step at independance last week. She will have to face what Joyce told her about Buffy.

Faith. Too many questions! I think there are a lot of answers that can be found earlier in the series (and Angel) upon consideration. But, is she dead?

Buffy. How has her revivification allowed the First greater access to the world? This has been kept low key, as it should, but it will have to be glossed eventually, possibly even thematically (though I think not). What is a Slayer? A Slayer is always a girl (and occasionally becomes a woman) so I guess it’s obvious why we’ve been introduced to Caleb.

Will Angel come back before the final moments of next week’s episode?

BtVS: 7ABB20: Touched

Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner.

Nice how Faith assumes Buffy’s attitude as well as her role, confirming some of what I thought after ‘Lies My Parents Told Me’. Leaders can listen to their followers, but they make the decisions, not the followers. Giles wants to lead from behind – my friends are still convinced there’s something Not Giles about him, but I disagree, I think he’s in character, just out of his element. The potentials want some kind of mob democracy – recalling anarchist cells in the Spanish Civil War who outvoted experienced tacticians and got themselves killed. Leadership is a tricky thing.

I turn the floor over to Mark Bernstein:

Buffy is, obviously, a response to the teen slasher movie, and specifically to the genre’s second body — the pretty girl who enjoys her sexuality without earning it. Whedon says so, but it’s not exactly rocket science to figure it out for yourself.

Note for Watchers: The Blonde Victim is attacked by monsters because everything comes easy for her. She’s pretty, she’s talented, she’s popular, she enjoys her body. She’s blessed — and she does nothing to earn it. And that’s exactly where Buffy starts, back in high school.

Now, very close to the end, Anya (of all people) says the words: “You’re not better than us. You are just luckier. Than us.”

So, we’re doing Isolation Of The Hero, and we’re making a clever little point about relationships by having The Night When Everyone Has Great Sex Except Buffy, we’re courageously making TV safe for gay people, and all the time we’re letting this childhood terror out one last time.

Not bad for about 20 minutes of footage. Or, maybe I’m wrong. I think I know where we’re going, but you never know.

Murder on the Orient Express

This is the first Agatha Christie novel I have read. (I haven’t even seen an adaption of Christie, though the cast photos for the film of this story are packed with yumminess, so I should borrow this one at least.)

Christie is a fine writer, with a light touch, though the denouement is marred by a sudden bout of exposition – probably acceptable when this novel was written. (And her usage of untranslated French passages made me wonder if the language would have been understood by the then audience.) Her plotting is superb.

From a detective point of view, I’m not sure all the clues are presented to us, though again, they might have been present for the audience at the time. It didn’t really bother me: I had heard the solution before, and I don’t really read this kind of fiction to pit my wits against the author’s detective.

The presence of class, racism and sexism are heavy in the novel, opening an interesting window on the ruling class of the Thirties. I particularly liked the passage introducing the passengers in the dining car, starting from a philosophical statement of the wonders of cosmopolitanism and then moving through a number of stereotypical caricatures!

And a line, referring to murder, that can’t be written any more without being crushed by irony: “we are not so wicked as that in Germany.”

David’s Festival of International Films: Day One

Yesterday:

Max

Director: Menno Meyjes
Country: US/Canada/Germany
Yumminess: John Cusack
Rating: Excellent

The setting of Munich 1918 is intoxicating. Ideological battles, modern art, rotten romanticism, injustice of Versailles. The relationship between Max and Hitler is lovely. Lots of great lines. Subtle film that allows the audience to bring its own readings of individual action or historical inevitability. Beautiful cinematography.

Sex is Comedy

Director: Catherine Breillat
Country: France
Yumminess: Anne Parillaud, Ashley Wanninger
Rating: Very Good

I love the sensuality of Jeanne, how she casually transgresses personal space, as if perhaps everyone is an extension of her psyche. Lots of acute observations of male/female relationships, with an awareness that these observations are not universal. The pseudo-documentary style is absolute with completely convincing performances. Good window into filmmaking. Funny.

Broken Wings

Director: Nir Bergman
Country: Israel
Yumminess: None
Rating: OK, don’t bother

Some nice moments. Excellent score. I enjoyed it more as a Jerusalem travel brochure: I never realised that the city was so lush. The terraced underground station was interesting (I think there might have been one in San Francisco).

Morvern Callar

Director: Lynne Ramsay
Country: UK/Canada
Yumminess: None
Rating: Dire

The heroine, whose boyfriend has committed suicide, moves at a glacial pace through a series of variously cliched and random vignettes with her friend. Eventually she dumps her friend. Excellent soundtrack (though the film keeps hinting the soundtrack, in the form of a mix tape within the narrative, is important, this is never developed). The scene of a Spanish club really terrified me (Wachowski Bros take note) – I’ll have to visit one…

Walken @ Cornish Arms 25/7

Walken @ Cornish Arms 25/7

Cornish Arms: How is it I lived within ten minutes drive of this pub for 18 months without ever visiting it? This is surely a lovely little secret. Top quality nosh (gourmet kangaroo steak meals, wondrous wasabi sauces, and Melbourne’s only mixed grill), a great mix of dining and pool room atmospheres, local premium beers on tap, big stage. And you don’t need to pay the band cover charge if you’re already dining, drinking or playing pool. Plus, they play Mit Gas on their sound system. Only a short distance from Harris, so no more going to Bridie O’Reilly’s for me!

Walken: almost four years, wow. I’m still waiting for the penny to drop, for the mainstream to pick this band up. I know I seem biased, their guitarist is one of my best friends, but I don’t suffer bad art even for my friends (I’d be privately encouraging, not publicly enthusiastic). This is one of my favourite bands and I miss not having a nicely produced CD to listen to, though their live performances are always a pick-me-up.

I grapple with describing Walken. Standard line-up: singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer. I call them a pop/rock band, but a fairer estimation would be folk/funk/punk/pop/rock/metal acoustic/electric superstars! I reference the Chili Peppers, REM, and FNM, and agree with Damien’s statements that they remind everyone of “the best parts of their favorite bands” and “are thus engaging, recognisable and yet unique.” But that’s it: a clever lyric may invoke REM, or a bass line the Chili Peppers, but it’s the overall different feel that I love, not the similarities.

They have a very full sound. Each is an accomplished musician in his role, but no one dominates the other. Each one is always on. Mixing mishaps for the first half of last night’s set really gave their professionalism a chance to shine as they played tight without being able to hear themselves, let alone one another. Even as the audience couldn’t hear one different player from song to song, what came from the other three, though noticably lacking a part, was still musical. The second half of the set was free from technical issues and there the band really soared. Walken may be devoted to perfection but they are ever restless, playing new variations on their songs each time they perform. Sometimes that is as simple as raising the tempo, sometimes there are more complex changes to the arrangement of a song.

Walken are absolutely the antidote if you’ve got The Plurals (symptoms: The Vines, The Drugs, The White Stripes, The blah blah blahs, The etcs). Fifteen songs last night would have put you into full remission. If you didn’t get your cure last night, remember you’re putting the health of others at risk! See Walken as soon as possible.

He-Man On Ice

He-Man On Ice

I drove past a theatre playing Nutcracker on Ice last night, which reminded me of this article by Matt on the Masters of the Universe Power Tour. Why is it that no one but Disney does these things these days? Where’s Dragonball Z on Ice? Even Harry Potter on Ice? (Mmmm, Reptar on Ice.)

And another reminder that Matt can still turn it on (and showing you don’t need Flash to be humourous on the web): Skeletor stars in The Great OPERATION Adventure!

Flashback: Metallica Bad!

Flashback: Metallica Bad!

What with all the recent Flash goodness, plus finally seeing Seabase 2021 myself and introducing Ainsley to Invader Zim, and as (New) Metallica are encroaching our country and airwaves yet again, I suddenly had a flashback to The Year 2000. Talking about it, I discovered that many people had never seen the seminal ‘Napster Bad!’ So here it is or here it is again.

Though I think New Metallica begins with Load and some people cite the Black Album, I find myself seeing a root in the ‘One’ film clip that got me into the band. That’s where Metallica became copyright pirates — because copyright was intended to encourage the proliferation of work, not lock it away. HUAC failed to censor the novel of Johnny Got His Gun, but Metallica have succeeded in censoring the movie, just so they can use clips in their “cool video”. (Ainsley owns a copy of the movie, fuck Metallica!)