Preview – Spectre 

  

So the trailer for the new bond film is out and it seems prudent to display my thoughts regarding his reinvention and about what I regard as the conclusion (or start of the conclusion) to the last 3 instalments.  

Let’s all agree, the reinvention was not unnecessary. As much as I liked the suave charm of Brosnan’s 007 he was overwhelmed with crass scripts, ridiculous gadgets and a slavish commitment to every cliché thought possible. And don’t get me started on John Cleese. 

Casino Royale was a very solid start, stripping back everything and breathing a lease of life in to the ancient concept. The film had some great ideas introducing quantum as a sort of modem day pseudo Spectre. The film gave us a sort of ‘bond origins’ story that was smart and tapping in to just enough bond tropes to keep it familiar. The film worked, though I’m still not sure about a baddy who suffers from asthma. 

Quantum of Solace was a mixed bag in my opinion. It wanted to carry on the story of Casino Royale but didn’t seem to know where to take it. It reintroduced a few more bondy things, our drip feed after the traffic accident that was The World Is Not Enough, but the film felt wary of pushing its luck and as such perhaps restrained itself a little too much forgetting that bond still needs to be bond. 

This weakness became apparent when Skyfall was released, ditching the story line of the previous two films for a stand alone film that took the time to put to bed the final legacies of the Brosnan years and replacing them with ones more ‘traditional’. This was the final part in the reinvention allowing the series to continue unencumbered from invisible cars and media controlled stealth battleships. I was disappointed by the loss of Quantum as I had fond memories of Spectre in the early days but low and behold the next film is actually called Spectre so I guess I needn’t have worried. Skyfall is overrated with its need to to self consciously homage the old bonds quite so faux-ironically, but it was necessary in order to finally mop up the last of the mess of the previous decade. It did that admirably. 

So going forward what have we got to look forward to? The most exciting thing bar the return of Spectre is Christopher Waltz as the baddy. There is much speculation about whether he will or won’t be Blofeld but quite honestly, though I hope he is (and signed to do multiple films) it doesn’t matter. He is perhaps the strongest casting as a baddy for some time and if he does return for multiple films he could herald a challenge to Jaws as a proper iconic baddy.  The rest of the casting is just as strong with familiar names popping up in essential roles. Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci are both great choices as Bond girls and while the idea of ‘bond girls’ nowadays does leave a slightly acrid taste in ones mouth, these strong actresses are capable of ensuring that that too is perhaps a successful reinvention. 

Spectre is supposed to be the beginning of the rest of Bonds life on screen and I am very optimistic indeed. Below is the new trailer. Enjoy. 

http://youtu.be/ashLaclKCik

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DVD review – Interstellar 

Interstellar

  

Science fiction films often get a rough time of it and it’s not difficult to see why. Frequently they are the wet dreams of not quite grown up men with little to say regarding anything outside their imaginary universe. When they do have something to say they make such an over obvious feature of it it can feel very pious or allegorical. Yes I’m thinking Avatar, all the Marvel films, Transformers etc etc etc. 

Interstellar feels different. My overriding takeaway was one of family and human solidarity. Not done well just for a sci-fi flick but done well period. You really care about these characters and the film cares enough about you to make sure they all get adequate time on screen so they are fully formed and their stories are concluded satisfactorily. This means the film is long, that’s not to say it’s slow, the small number of visual indulgences are beautiful but such is their infrequency the movie rattles along at a fair old pace never allowing you time to think too hard. The speed of the film could be a problem for those not overly well versed in pop-astrophysics, for those who concentrate however the exposition isn’t too clunky or obvious.   

The acting is solid with only Michael Cane delivering a some what predicable performance. The rest of the cast look nicely in unison and manage the fluffy pseudo science script convincingly. This is an accomplished piece of cinema with hints of 2001. I can’t really get more complimentary than that.   

The most hated woman in Britain – You only hate yourself.

Last night I watched Josie Cunningham on ‘The most hated woman in Britain’ on Channel 4. I sort of fell in to watching it by accident as if I’m honest had no idea who she was before watching the programme. I suppose I would have done if I was a regular reader of ‘The Sun’ or ‘Closer’ magazine but I don’t so I was lucky enough not to go in to watching the show having been told what to feel.

josie-cy

The hour long show was all about exploitation. By both the media (of their readers) and Josie (of, lets face it, the readers) Its sort of no wonder people hate her. Stories such as “I’ll have an abortion to go on Big Brother” are so outrageous (and obviously made up) that the people who buy in to it are slaves to the ridiculousness of it all. This can only be explained by people sort of wanting a harmless pantomime villain to distract them from their otherwise scary or dull lives. We have got to a point where the real villains of the world are so intransigent and beyond the law we resort to mob baying of public figures created deliberately to help us forget our more pressing anxieties and keep us buying papers.

If this really bothers you then you are reading in the wrong papers. You could live in a world where the likes of Josie Cunningham are alien to you, where the vitriol you spew is aimed high at real injustice. If you continue to read stories like these then your hatred is not only perpetuating your problem, but says much more about you then it does the likes of Miss Cunningham.

In the aftermath

So, George Galloway has come out today during a freedom of speech rally in Bradford, where he is an MP, saying that the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo were provocative enough to alienate 1.7 Billion people presumably to the point of violence. Now he does make the distinction that no person should be subjected to violence just because of what they say or write or draw, he also draws comparisons to the limits of free speech already on us as a society just as inciting hatred and shouting fire in a cinema.

These comparisons are fatuous, shouting fire in a crowed theatre is potentially dangerous because of what people will do reasonably to keep themselves from burning alive. There is nothing reasonable in reacting to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons but gunning down journalists. That takes a step of unreasonable behaviour and choice by the perpetrators. Inciting hatred is also reasonably curtailed in the freedom of speech rights but we must understand the difference between inciting and provoking, Is there any provocation that necessitates civilian vigilantism? (to put it kindly).

Chief amongst his complaints is the idea of satire becoming skewed, he mentions that the proper job of a satirist is to hold the rich and powerful to account. But who decides who is rich and powerful enough George? 1.7 Billion people sounds like a significantly powerful group to me especially seeing as they have amongst Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, as Muslim centric nations with nuclear power, huge gold and oil stock piles and poor human rights records.

Can we really suggest that Charlie Hebdo with its pre-attack readership of 40,000 were attacking down when satirising Islam? Can we really say as the Pope as well as George Galloway request that organisations such as Islam and the Catholic Church should be exempt from critique?

I sincerely hope not because left unchecked they become even more privileged and free to influence global affairs without any democratic process or rational scrutiny.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

So the sequel of Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released this week, a film I had been anticipating for a while. The first film nicely skirted the line between serious and light, it was intelligent enough without being too avant-garde for an opening slavo in to popular relaunch. The new film takes the confidence gained from the success of the first and runs with it. I suspect there were some focus groups involved, the core fans of the first film clearly enjoyed the darker moments and so the sequel very much focuses on that.

The idea that the human race is all but extinct and apes becoming the dominant race is nothing short of apocalyptic but that is not to say that had a director been so inclined he wouldn’t have made a lighter film than Dawn. This film is bleak to say the least, not only is Earth utterly ravaged but the attitudes of the protagonists are cynical as well, apes and humans alike. On the brink of war the film makes a great deal of effort to ensure neither party are wholly to blame but this makes the inevitability of war seem far more real and close. This is a theme that is explored in minute detail, planet of the apes has always been a mirror held up to man to highlight its animal side. Its not so much asking would apes act like us but more – look we already act just like apes.

There is very little moral high ground left by the end and the next film in the franchise will surly continue down the same dystopian hopeless future that Dawn has left us with. Its refreshing to see a film prepared to openly critique war so blatantly while also acknowledging that its part of who we are.

Willies aren’t funny

I have a willy, just like most men. I piss out of it, ejaculate out of it, get some pleasure out of it and that pretty much covers its function. Except one thing, its amusement value. Ok I’ll admit, nobody (as far as I know) has ever laughed at my willy personally, but willies do seem to be a great source of humour for some people.

Perhaps this says more about them, perhaps they laugh at a willy to cover their own immaturity or nervousness or lack of experience regarding the male member? Are willies really inherently amusing? My wife doesn’t think so,

Yet actually she kind of does, she went to a Hen night last weekend and complained that there was a severe lack of comedy blow up penises and other novelty fun time phallus shaped accoutrements. ‘Boring’ were her words – apparently drinking straws shaped like a cock would have been perfect.

I took umbrage to this, at the stag nights I’ve been to, parts of a lady have certainly been discussed but never as an object of ridicule or humour, much more regularly as an object of desire or awe.

Are women not allowed to look at a dick as an object of desire, is that so bad? Do they resort to sniggering as a sort of cover so that they can talk about them as is their want, but not in a way that might reflect badly on them. This seems a self imposed double standard.

As well as being seemingly detrimental to a womans right to speak her mind, its also us men that suffer. There seems to be a general consensus that a cock and balls are free to be laughed at. Often they are described as ugly or given unkind names such as meat or tools.

Body image is a huge thing in the media. It seems that when people are interested in selling us something, everything is fair game. There are a number of big issues this causes. The primary focus appears to be peoples weight, and by people I mean women. The media is obsessed with a women being the right weight, so much so that only then are they allowed to be called a ‘real woman’. The irony of this is those ‘real women’ are hardly ever actually used in the media’s advertising (except when to use the pejorative term as a point in principle). What this tends to result in is disgust. Primarily in our own deficiencies but also in others as news story after news story shows the obese from the neck down walking down the street. Its a health problem and its not funny, but unfortunately it filters down too far and causes people who don’t have health problems and who aren’t overweight to think they do.

The Spastic Society had the same problem, for years the word spastic was used as a term of insult in playgrounds up and down the country, a rebranding didn’t do much good either, mental health issues still attract derision, fear and therefor ridicule.

Penis ridicule does filter down, a lot of men particularly teenagers (who dicks are most likely to be giggled at) are sensitive about their appendages, they are nervous about its size, shape, follicle status. Its enough that men have to step in to the unknown of dating by being the designated initiates without fearing the raucous laughter of a girl seeing a penis for the first time.

I object to penises being derided, just as Scope do about their issue and Im sure the millions of women do when confronted with the media’s idea of ‘real women’. If you like cocks say you like them, if you don’t then they are fairly easily avoided, but don’t laugh at them – they are attached to people.

Review – Ultraviolence : Lana Del Rey 

I was impressed with Lana Del Rey’s debut album, Born to Die was fresh, cool, and attempted to do something that a lot of musicians were shying away from, ie not be afraid to attach themselves to the echelons that resided in circles unobtainable to us mere folk of the general public. With the advent of the internet age of music, many bands are trying so hard to be “one of us” or alternatively succumbing to the commercial juggernaughts of wall to wall polished advertising and safe music.

In reality Born to Die may have been a carefully commercialised stunt, but it was still cool and it wasn’t packaged that way so kudos for that.

It could have been a different story though, her live performances bombed and the album while really solid in parts was a little sporadic, it didn’t hang together with an identity other than the one that was being offered to us mainly in the form of posters and album artwork. Luckily it had enough to attract people to its charms

I am happy to say that the follow up – Ultraviolence, improves on all those areas. The album borrows a lot of cool and in places some of the hooks off the previous album, but its much less self-conscious. Its more even toned, feels a little less commercial and it feels like she has found her voice. It would have been tempting to capitalise on the first albums success by hiring in a bunch of writers and knocking out loads of catchy tunes. That isn’t whats happened, this is the work of someone with one message – ‘This is the music I like – if you like it too – Cool.’ She isn’t pandering to old fans, nor trying too hard to win new ones.

I’ve not heard any radio play of the album yet (partly because I rarely listen to the radio) but nothing strikes me as a standout ‘single’ The album is a single stream of a sound that is tailor made for long summer days. The production is excellent but really needs a good set of speakers or headphones to capture all the subtleties.

A worthwhile purchase then, it wont blow you away, but its a great album to have on while wistfully dreaming through days. Hopefully it will catapult Lana in to a place where she is free to do her own thing for a few more albums yet.